Summary: Learning how to balance the Bible’s emphasis of truth and grace is a continual struggle for most people working with legalists. There is such a thing as a healthy fear of God. Learning how to love, reverence and trust the Lord involves holding God in holy
Helping Christians Rely On Grace
2 Corinthians 13:14 (NIV, NIRV, TNIV, KJV)
HELPING CHRISTIANS RELY MORE ON GOD’S GRACE THAN ON LAW
Learning how to balance the Bible’s emphasis of truth and grace is a continual struggle for most people working with legalists. There is such a thing as a healthy fear of God. Learning how to love, reverence and trust the Lord involves holding God in holy veneration. When we properly fear God, He becomes our sufficiency.
There is a big temptation in Nigeria to smuggle gasoline to the surrounding countries where it is sold for an equivalent of $4.00 per gallon. In Nigeria, gasoline is sold for around $.50 a gallon. Several years ago, I remember reading about some gasoline smugglers who used their donkeys for carrying gallons of jerry tins over the mountain borders from Nigeria to Cameroon. However, one evening, a clever border custom official waited for the petrol smuggling donkey team along a deserted road. As the donkeys passed, with their jerry tins of fuel strapped to their backs, the smugglers spotted the border officials and ran away, leaving their donkeys to the custom officials. The next day, the customs officer read a verse from Isaiah 1:3 that said, "The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." That official got a brainstorm. He decided not to feed the donkeys for two days. When he released the donkeys he secretly followed them back to their owner’s hideout. Very soon, the smugglers returned to claim their donkeys and they were arrested for attempting to smuggle gasoline out of the country without a permit.
When we walk in faith, we must also walk in the fear of God. Do not be deceived into thinking that little sins will not affect us. All sins have a way of finding us out. Sin leads to a death of a desire to love, serve, and do all of God’s will. The fear of God keeps us from little sins as well as the sins of omission. We will have to give account some day for every idle word, thought and action. Let a healthy fear of God keep you from straying. When we fear the Lord we will have no great needs. The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but they who fear the Lord will lack no good thing. Understanding God’s grace enhances a healthy fear of God.
The following list may give you some helpful tips in balancing out the ultra-conservatives’ tendency to give more weight to the law over the grace of our Lord.
HOW TO APPROPRIATE GOD’S GRACE
Most people want to be treated in a kind, gracious and respectful way. When one learns how to appropriate the grace of God, interpersonal relationships are developed in a genuine spirit of love. Without a proper appropriation of God’s grace to our communications, our maturity will be impeded. Paul, the apostle, once said, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." (I Corinthians 13:11) Live life to your full potential by realizing that we, who are in Christ, are no longer under the
law, but grace. Exercise your freedoms for good.
Without grace operating in our lives we can become rigid. When we remove freedom to explore and space to be creative we tend to snuff enthusiasm out of any fellowship. It is tough to deal with people who are rigid and inflexible. These people like to control, restrict, and reduce the lives of free Christians. We feel nervous in expressing ourselves around people who are rigid. We hold back spontaneous feelings for fear that they may be misinterpreted. We may survive as a fellowship, but we will never realize our God given potentials. In an atmosphere of rigidity few people are willing to take any risks for fear of censorship. A rigid group is an example of one that has put law before love. Christ’s love is willing to let go of its own ways, it releases people to be who they will to be. The closer one gets to a rigid person the more one feels like suffocating. Do not let anyone subject you to human validations. Do not let others squeeze you into their mold. Do not let people insist that you act, talk, and think like them in order to gain their acceptance. God gave us a perfect example of grace through one that accepts us just as we are. Our adequacy comes from His grace. He wants us to develop in the fullness of His graciousness. Rigidity puts your gracious thinking to death.
The following are truths and principles will which help to guide you to more fully appropriate the grace of God in your personal life, your interpersonal relationships, and your organizational interactions: Grace is an expression of God’s favor given to us freely at Christ’s expense. Nothing we do will make God love us any more. Likewise, there is nothing we can do to make God love us less.