Oh great, another discussion about a topic that people always fight about. Nope, not this time. We are saved by grace and called to work. We are not saved by works, but by the gift of God through the act of Christ. We live in grace and are left here on planet earth to work. Anything argued beyond those concepts and I will have to leave the discussion.
What I want to write about is how we use the word grace. While having a discussion with someone recently about the completion of their Master’s program, they said, “Well, it was just God’s grace.” I wonder about that sentence. I know God’s grace empowers and enables us, but where does human effort come into the equation? Did God’s grace write all the papers, listen to the lectures, and take pages of notes? Did God’s grace take the tests, stay up late and study, and fulfill the requirements for graduation? Didn’t my friend have to show up, write, and produce something?
What about parenting? Many parents will say if their children turnout well as adults, “Well, it was just God’s grace.” Was it? So, God’s grace was not with the parents who children rebel? Was it God’s grace that sat on the bed until two in the morning listening to a confused teenager? Did God’s grace drive the van, coach the teams, and change the diapers? Where was God’s grace when Adam sinned? Parenting is a time intensive activity. It seems like some children will just be okay, and others take a great deal more time. How does God’s grace fit into parenting? Do we have to do something, should be doing something, or just leave it up to God’s grace?
Now, before you label me as a heretic or someone that does not appreciate God’s grace, I do, I really do. I love God’s glorious grace and relish the fact that He pours it out in abundance. How could we live without God’s grace? However, I wonder about the human aspect of our lives in relationship to God’s grace.
Where does working hard come in regarding our jobs? How about studying? Dying to self? Battling our flesh daily? Training our children? Is it really all God’s grace that does these things or is human effort involved?
If I want to run a mile without dying, can I just rely on God’s grace and take off sprinting, or do I need to train a bit first? How about dieting? Memorizing Scripture? Developing any skill in any area? Don’t these take human effort as well as God’s enabling grace?
If a parent ignores their child, they may grow up well by God’s grace, but it seems that the parents that train and invest in them, consistently do better. If I want to grow proficient in any skill or activity, I can just trust in God’s grace, or I can invest the time and energy to learn and practice.
I am not discounting God’s grace in any fashion, just the statement, “Oh, it was God’s grace,” Yes, it was God’s grace. It also was an effort on your part to walk in that grace. It was hard work, diligence, endurance, faithfulness, and an investment of time. Why do we have the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians if all we need is God’s grace? Why do I need patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, if God’s grace does it all? I’m just asking, not trying to pick a fight here.
Why are so many aspects of God type love an action if grace does everything? Endures all things, believes all things, and never gives up, sure seem like human effort and choices to me. We are told in many places in Scripture to put off, put on, lay aside, and take up. If, “Oh well, it’s all by God’s grace,” is true, why so many commandments that seem to imply a choice?
Perhaps what really matters is choosing wisely under the influence and empowered by God’s grace. Yes, God’s grace is poured out in abundance on each of us, and for that, I am eternally grateful. I am also told to work hard, and I guess I need His grace to obey that command as well.