Obedience and the Gospel

Obedience and the Gospel

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God’s call to obey is itself a grace. In this call, He is actively rescuing you from you.”  

                                   New Morning Mercies: A Daily Gospel Devotional – Paul David Tripp

 

(The past two years have been so filled with God showing me how much His grace is needed in my life. He has brought circumstances to bear upon me and my family that had us suffocating, begging for the oxygen that only grace offers. And when we looked for it, it was right there in front of us.)

I have been a “rules based Mama” for all of my mothering years. Rules is what I know. It’s how I was raised. You follow the rules; you get peace. You break the rules; you get yelled at and punished. It’s just the way it was. I was even raised in church, but I never heard about grace, or how it could change my life.  I was never told how much God loved me, beyond John 3:16. I figured He was just like my authorities.

He was to be obeyed; and if I didn’t obey Him, He got angry. He was always measuring my progress, my performance. If I didn’t have my quiet time, or I yelled at a kid, or I argued with my husband, or I listened to something besides the Christian radio station, or I watched a movie with a curse word…well, I just knew that He was keeping score. And He was most definitely unhappy with me.

I gave Him lots of reasons to be unhappy.

I sometimes thought to myself that He must get really sick of me asking for forgiveness for the same sins over and over all the time. Surely, He must not want to hear it again. I mean, He sent His Son for me, and I can’t get in a consistent quiet time?? I just knew I needed to get it together so that I would be acceptable to Him. I tried so hard. For so long.

I wanted Him to love me and approve of me more than anything.

But the harder I tried, the more guilty I felt. God was doing things to get my attention during this time. But I wasn’t listening. Eventually, He turned our world upside down and moved in our lives in a rather amazing way. It didn’t feel amazing at the time; it felt extremely painful. But it’s easy to see now that He was trying to get us into a position where we could understand what grace really and truly means.

Does that mean I no longer strive to please Him with my own actions? I wish!! As a human, I will always have to fight my sinful, deceitful heart when it comes to believing that my performance elevates my standing with Him.

That’s where things like a good, grace-teaching church and devotionals like I mentioned above really help. It is imperative that you get a daily dose of grace. God wants us to understand that He is not keeping score. He is not ashamed of us, or frustrated with us.

He never gets tired of us coming to Him, for help, for mercy, for forgiveness.

He doesn’t keep track of our sins, but rather He keeps track of all our hurts and our tears. He wants us to understand, above all else, that we are accepted and loved and treasured by Him, through His Son. When we put our faith and our trust in Him, we never again have to worry about being good enough.

No matter how hard you try to keep man-made rules, you will never be one iota more acceptable to Him.

All of your acceptance comes through Christ. This is something we just have to believe and accept. Even though trying to keep a bunch of rules feels more normal, it doesn’t produce the peaceful fruit of righteousness. We can never reach the level of perfection He requires. Thankfully, we don’t have to.

All we have to do is say yes.

This morning, one of my children was having a very difficult time obeying me. At one point, as he was apologizing for the umpteenth time, I said to him, “You know, it seems like our days are made up of you disobeying and then telling me you are sorry.”

And that’s when it happened. Grace actually sank in and made sense. I told a friend that it was like the gospel punched me in the face at that moment.  Because that kid? He is me. That thing he does where he disobeys and asks forgiveness constantly? Yep, that’s me.

 

So, how do obedience and the Gospel work together??

My child’s belief, that as his mom, I won’t abandon him or ignore him or stop loving him…that has to be my belief about my own Father! My child doesn’t try to obey me enough to earn my love. He is assured of my everlasting love and devotion because he is my child. And I am an imperfect, sinful parent.

How much more should I rest in my Heavenly Father’s love and devotion to me?!! Let me encourage you, dear Mama’s…if you belong to Him, rest in that. Take comfort in knowing that He cares for you so much more than you even care for your own children. Breathe in His grace, every day. Breathe it in every moment. 

And offer it to your children; instead of guilt and shame and false hope. They will never be good enough. And neither will you. But because of Jesus, we don’t have to feel fear and failure when we disobey or fall short, yet again. He is not keeping score. 

So, what about obedience? Yes, we must obey Him. His Word is clear; if we love Him we will obey Him. But there will be times that we don’t. Just like our children. In those times, it is imperative for us to remember that …

…grace is there and it is available to us. As parents , we must pass on to our children what we receive from Him.  

The gospel makes obedience possible; and when we disobey, the gospel gives us a place for forgiveness and cleansing, without shame. 

The question is – are you giving your children a place for forgiveness and cleansing without shame? Do you bring them to the Cross when they sin?