When I was a little kid I desperately wanted to be good. I didn’t want to have to pull a card and I didn’t want to have to take a note home. If it was something that bad kids had to do, then I didn’t want to do it.
In spite of my best efforts, though, I couldn’t be as good as I wanted to be.
In the first grade my friend and I found used carbon paper in the trashcan. We pulled out the carbon paper and proceeded to cover ourselves in purple ink. We made paper airplanes, threw the paper at each other and rubbed it all over our arms and faces. Needless to say we were caught because we couldn’t hide the fact that we looked like Grimace’s children. I got in trouble and had to sit in time out during recess.
It was then that I realized I could never be as good as I wanted to be. No matter how hard I try, I’m always going to come short of my standard and God’s standard. That’s why being good isn’t a matter of trusting in our own strength but in God’s grace.
God calls us to be good and to do good works in this world. But he never expected us to do those under our own strength and power. God enables us to be good through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God empowers us to do good through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. God doesn’t just call us to be good but he holds our hand through the entire process.
It’s so easy for me to still be that little kid in the first grade. I wanted to be good so badly. No matter how hard I tried at six and no matter how hard I try at 32, I still end up with purple ink all over my hands. I can never be good enough on my own and, when I try, I just screw everything up. The only chance I have of being good and doing good is to rely on God’s grace.
I’m still trying to learn what it actually looks like to rely on God’s grace. Immediately my mind goes to needing to do something more, but it’s not about activity. I’ve most felt God’s grace in those quiet moments of simply being before God. Again, I don’t want to transform those moments into something I have to do, but I want them to be a natural part of my everyday life.
God’s grace is so good and I know it can help me be good.
What does it look like for you to rely on God’s grace?
This post was based on the sermon I gave this past weekend at my church. You can listen to it here.