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Free and Unmerited Favor

We want control. We’re only human!

We want control over what we do and what happens to us. We want control over the future. In our flesh, we experience hunger, so we have to provide for ourselves and our families. We have to eat, so it’s natural to want control.

But we also want control over other people. We try to control how they react to us. Some of us try to control how they behave in our presence! This isn’t about the hunger our bodies experience or the food we need to stay alive. This is about something else. It’s about avoiding shame.

The thought process is something like this: “I want people to act a certain way when I’m around because that will make me feel better.”

For some of us, our greatest need for control involves the people closest to us, like our families. How many of us have said, “If my husband (or wife) and my kids look like this or act like this, then people will think that our family is good.” Does that sound familiar?

There’s no shame in wanting control. It’s just being human.

As a baseball player, I was very control-oriented. When I went out on that field, I didn’t control where a hitter hit the ball. I didn’t control when a hitter took a swing. So I had to control everything before that. I controlled my environment at the field. I controlled my workouts and the development of my technique. I controlled the delivery of the pitch. All of this helped me succeed.

But when it comes to family and relationships, control won’t work. You cannot control other people.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “grace”? How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh, I’ll give them grace this time.” It’s like saying, “I’ll just let it slide.” In some ways, grace has acquired a casual quality. This is a non-spiritual way of looking at it.

Maybe we hear grace and think mercy. We say, “Grace? That is Jesus dying for us. Grace is allowing us into His kingdom. It’s allowing us into His family.” That confuses grace and mercy a little bit. There’s more to grace than this.

I finally started to truly understand grace when I heard the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED defines grace as “the free and unmerited favor of God.” Think about that. How do we get God’s grace? We don’t! Grace is free. It is unmerited. We can’t earn it. God just gives it to us.

In some ways that is such a foreign concept! God just gives us His grace, even though we don’t deserve it? Who does that? Well, God does! Truly, that’s what He does. He just gives it to us. He simply gives us favor.

And when God gives us grace, He allows us to live in it.

God has been taking me on a journey into grace. I think this is a big part of the Christian life. Going on this journey, and understanding what grace means, has been a very big deal for me. It has allowed me to see scripture in a new way. God leads me to work with Biblical principles in new ways, and gain fresh insight.

I’ve been learning what the Bible really means when it says, “Don’t live by the law.” It’s leading me to freedom. Surrendering control and living by grace frees us. It frees the people around us. Giving and receiving grace is living in freedom.

More on this next time. See you Friday.

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