For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
This week I’ve spent some time looking at who I am as a person, as a child of God. Just like you, I’m a work in progress…God’s masterpiece, envisioned by the One who spoke the universe into existence – he is lovingly crafting me by his skilled hand. Good thing that’s his job and not mine!
What I observed is that I am good person with a big heart. I like that about me. But I’m also way too involved in the details of my life, often letting too much precious time slip by in useless procrastination and distraction. In the past, I would come down hard on myself, condemning what I consider my faults and failures. Then, feeling guilty, I would “try harder” to be better and inevitably fail leaving me to start the cycle all over again. As a completed project, this would be unacceptable, but as a work in progress…my flaws and failures are just rough spots the Master still needs to smooth out and chip away.
Just like me, the people I encounter in my daily life are works in progress. They too have flaws and failures awaiting the Master’s touch. Here’s where God invites me into his work. I can be like the Pharisees and Sadducees and choose to condemn them for their imperfections or follow in the footsteps of Jesus and accept them, in grace for who they are, reflecting the love and forgiveness he shows me every day. I want to say that I will always choose to act in grace, love, and forgiveness but I’m still just a work in progress and it’s not going to happen. Grace is not something we as human beings can summon within ourselves. Grace is God’s amazing gift to us – a gift that is complete only when we learn to pass it on to others.
If you think grace is easy – go ahead – try to put it into practice. Think of something that you just can’t stand in a person, something that grates against your sensitivities, your conscience, and accept them fully, just as they are, in grace and love. I'm not talking about tolerance, but loving others with Christ's heart. God doesn't tolerate us. He loves us. This is my challenge and my goal – to love as Jesus loves me. And I can only do that in the power of the Holy Spirit.
About the pictures:
Pittsburgh, PA (May 2010)