Saturday, June 18, 2016

Harder Than It Has to Be - Martin Wiles

God saved you by his special favor when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8 NLT

“I can’t believe I didn’t think of that earlier. I made it so hard,” my wife said. 

A pastor friend and I lounged at our favorite fast food restaurant, shooting the breeze while our wives walked next door to a local retail store. My friend had lost a lot of weight due to recent health problems and needed a pair of pants that actually fit him. 

Our wives returned and plopped down beside us. Mine immediately took out a fingernail file and began working on a pocketbook that looked unfamiliar. It should have. It belonged to her friend. Fabric had caught in the zipper, and it was stuck fast. After the nail file rendered no success, my wife asked for my knife. She cut a few slices to no avail. Following 10 minutes of struggling with a stubborn zipper, she inserted the fingernail file between the zipper, and it immediately separated. With a sigh and laugh, she realized how difficult she had made something so simple. 

My friend and I, on the other hand, thought of grace. Paul had experienced it, taught it, and lived it. He was a legalist to the core before meeting Christ. His life had been about following all the rules—even ones Christ hadn’t given. Now it was about freedom. 

Grace is freeing, just as the contents of the pocketbook were by the separated zipper. My wife attempted to approach the problem in the normal way—unzip the zipper, when all she had to do was open the pocketbook another way. 

Grace is the other way…the only way. When I place my faith in Christ, His grace forgives my sins and frees me from their chains. Now I can do what I couldn’t before: obey His commands. 

Grace, however, isn’t a license to live recklessly. If I think I don’t have to worry about sin anymore because Christ has forgiven mine, I misunderstood grace. When I truly understand what grace cost God—the life of His Son, I’ll want to please Him by staying as far away from sinful situations as possible. Holiness will be my marching order. 

Have you experienced the freeing power of God’s grace? If so, show your appreciation through obedience. 

Prayer: Father, thank You for making it so easy to run into Your loving arms. 

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