Us humans have always been trying to define God's grace.
Some of these definitions are very Biblical and some of them are downright wrong. I don’t want to attempt to add yet another definition of grace. I want to look at what happens to my life because of God’s grace. God’s grace strengthens us. I love the way Hebrews 13:9 puts it, “do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”
The human heart is not strengthened by knowledge or works.
It is only strengthened by God's grace.
Let’s look at the following analogy.
Imagine you have to move one ton of sand from one spot to another. When you think of using a shovel, it will take you a long time. This is like living in the flesh. One unit of input will give you one unit of output. The moment you start running out of strength the units will start getting smaller, the work will slow down or even come to a holt.
Now imagine you are sitting in an excavator that has the hydraulic strength to move 100 shovels of sand with one scoop. How much power are you putting in? How much power are you utilising? How effective will you be at the job?
You only use a little of your own strength, but you are utilising the hydraulic power of the machine. This is what Grace is like.
You cannot work in God's kingdom by your own fleshly power. You'll be very slow in your work, you won’t be very effective and you will get tired quickly. But when God's grace empowers your heart you will be able to accomplish far more by His power than what you will ever do by yourself.
Unfortunately there is something that can hinder grace.
“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled.”
When you carry bitterness in your heart towards anyone, it will stop God's grace in your life. This would be like you getting out of the excavator to have a fight with someone and still expect the sand to be moved like before. In order to be effective in living in God's kingdom, we have to be inside His grace. Whenever you take offence and let a root of bitterness come into your heart, you will come short of the grace that empowers you.
Whatever you want from God, whether it be salvation of friends or family, healing, finances, or any other promise in Scripture, you have to understand it is given to you by grace. You do not receive this from your own works. If you choose to carry bitterness, will hinder your prayers from being answered.
In fact, bitterness and offence will hinder you from receiving anything from God.
When you carry bitterness you fall short of God’s grace. Remember this verse in Matthew 6:14-15, “for if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.”
In previous weeks we saw the four relationships that God restored in the Gospel; God, people, self and nature. In order to live in the full Grace of the Gospel, we have to understand that God places a high priority on us to forgive and to living in love towards others. Our relationship with other people is the second of these relationships that God restored in Jesus.
Next week I will give you some practical tips on how to forgive.