a series of essays on the Spirit-filled life
by Del McKenzie
Twice in the Bible the Holy Spirit is described as the Spirit of grace. He is gracious in His character and channels the grace that is in Christ Jesus to those who are filled with Him. If I want to be a man of the Spirit I will need to be a man of grace.
In answer to Peter's question, "How shall we then live", I want to live as a man of grace. With Paul I can say that "by the grace of God I am what I am." Anything good that I am or have done is because of God's grace in my life. I want to be drawing on that grace, walking in it, pursuing it, studying it, growing in it and extending it to other people. If I really understand that everything I have and do is from the free giving of God in Christ then I can live with:
Even the desire for God is a gift from Him. I don't want to waste my life trying to prove something that can't be proven. I can take no credit for anything and so I should not use my energy and time trying to prove how smart, dumb, spiritual, carnal, capable, qualified, clever, successful, strong, educated or anything else that I think I am! If I belong to Jesus I shouldn't be trying to prove to others that I belong with them. Realizing that everything is from His grace, I won't have to be trying to prove anything.
Except for the glory of God, I have nothing to promote and so I shouldn't waste my time trying to promote something that can't be promoted. I shouldn't get caught in trying to promote my ideas, resume, friends, relatives, likes, dislikes, team, city, church or anything else. Boasting and self-congratulating are a denial of God's grace. Let me be a cheer leader for the grace and glory of God, not of myself.
My whole life can be wasted in trying to protect what I think is mine: health, money, reputation, family, position, image and things like them. They are gifts from God and He can be trusted to protect them. He will let me try to guard them if I insist but He is far more capable at it than I am. And I can't really protect them anyway. Trying to protect myself leads to control, manipulation, abuse and a demanding spirit. If I can live with nothing to protect, I can honestly say to people, "There is nothing that you have done that will make me think less of you because I have either done it or could have done it and to think less of you for what you tell me would be a denial of God's grace in my life." If I say, or think, of a person, "How could he do that," I have not come to grips with the sinfulness of my own heart and the need for God's grace. I know how he could have done it!
I can waste my whole life trying to impress people. It will have no real and eternal value and I might not even like them! The purpose of impressing people is so that they will notice and acclaim me. The sinful nature's need to be noticed is pervasive and insidious. It is admired and promoted in the culture around us; I am encouraged to buy things that "will turn heads." I can try to impress people with how spiritual I am, strong, clever, cute, charming, rich and many more like them. Pleasing people is different from trying to impress them. I am called to please others instead of just myself. Trying to impress people is turning the focus from them to me. Since everything I am is from God's grace I should try to get people to be impressed with the God of grace.
I can waste much of my life fawning over a person or people. It will have no real or eternal value. I can be a name dropper. I can butter people up trying to make myself look good to them and trying to gain their favor. There is a difference between appreciating someone and idolizing them. Appreciation and idolatry are two different things. Appreciation recognizes how God and others have benefited my life. Grace sees all good things coming from God and gives gratitude to Him for them. Patronizing is a backhanded way of trying to get other people to applaud me.
I want to live this way and can do so only as I am a man of grace and through the ministry of the Spirit of grace. I don't always live this way, and fall far. Far short but I am committed to seeking it and coming back to these expressions of grace when I have selfishly wandered away. Grace says that "all that we have accomplished You have done for us." Amazing, wonderful, marvelous, infinite and beautiful is the free giving by God. May I understand it better and walk more fully in it!