Be Strong in the Grace

This is a season where we all need encouragement. We need to hear stories that meet us where we’re at and encourage us that we’re not alone. That reassure us we aren’t the only ones struggling. That help us be strong.

As lovely as it is to have people reassure us how well we’re doing and how strong we’re being, words like ‘You are enough’ paper over a crack in the moment but offer us little hope for the future. It meets the short-term need of affirmation but ultimately, rather than alleviating things, it piles more pressure to muster more strength that we probably don’t have. We need a lasting strength.

2 Timothy 2:1- ‘You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.’

But to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, we must be weak in ourselves.

To the extent that we think or try to be strong, we will not rely on God’s sufficiency and power.

Titus 3:3- ‘For at one time we too were foolish, disobedient, misled, and enslaved to all sorts of desires and pleasures— living in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.’

Not until we face the truth of these sentences head on does the beauty of what comes next really break in and truly refresh and encourage us.

Titus 3:4&5- ‘But when the kindness of God our Saviour and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy.’

How do we grow strong in God’s grace? I think by using the verses as a model.

First, an honest assessment …

Paul acknowledges there is something wrong with humankind. We have all fallen short of God’s standard. We need to be honest about where we are at currently. Acknowledge the hardness of heart, the people and situations we’re struggling with, where we have lost compassion, kindness and motivation.

What I’ve noticed in myself lately is that often it’s not God’s standard that condemns me. More often than not it’s my own. The standard to which I hold others is one I constantly fall short of.
Our sin looks a lot worse on other people than it does on us. When it’s on us we have a way of justifying it, excusing it, we have grace for ourselves. But I believe the beginning of growing ‘strong in the grace’ is to realise OUR need for God’s grace. Not hypothetically, but day by day, minute by minute.

… then we need to grasp the sufficiency of God’s grace.
Acknowledging our faults does not need to condemn us or  weigh us down. Rather it should liberate us. Grace is what makes Christianity unique.
God’s grace is his love coming towards us free of charge. No strings attached.
We don’t have to stop anything before we come and he gives us what we don’t deserve: life with God in his presence.

God’s grace comes at us while we were still sinners, while we still can’t figure our stuff or God out. Even then his grace comes after us. It doesn’t run out after we’ve confessed our sin a million times or been a Christian for a certain number of years. It’s unending, it can’t run out because it’s not something God has. It’s something he is.

We’re growing strong in grace when we have an honest assessment that puts US in our proper light and GOD in his - not when we gloss over things or live in a hyper-grace way that shrugs off our wrong doing and thinking.

How do we know we are growing stronger in the grace?

Striving ceases- we know we can’t do anything to get more or less grace,
There’s no comparison- we know no one is better than another, that we have all fallen short and are all only who we are by the grace of God.

There’s no competition- we know we can’t earn more of God’s love and favour or lose it.
And there’s no condemnation- no blame, no punishment, no judgement.

We are not enough, we never will be. But when we stop trying to be enough and instead stand under the grace that Jesus showed us when he died for us and took the punishment we deserved, joy returns, striving ends and God’s amazing grace is given centre stage.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (God speaking through Paul) - ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in your weakness.’ And Paul goes on to add in verse 10- ‘when I am weak, then I am strong’.

Let’s weaken our defences and allow his grace to have its proper place and power in our lives.

Emily Williams