Let’s face it, we’re all a little lazy at times. We want things to be cut and dry. We want To-Do Lists (unless we’re at work). We don’t want to have to wade through the muck and the mire of the gray areas. We want black and white. In the end, we want the law.
We want a measurement by which to compare ourselves to know how well we’re doing. We want a standard against which to compare other people, a list of rules they should and shouldn’t break. A list of offenses with corresponding punishments and a list of things they can do to earn their way back into our good graces.
Of course, we want all of this when it doesn’t pertain to salvation. When it comes to justification, our being “right” in the eyes of God, we want grace all day long. But when it comes to our sanctification, when we do the “how are we doing” test, we want something tangible that we can see, touch, and compare against. The only problem is that there’s one test, and we all fail. Every person. Every time.
Thank God that the same grace that declares us justified in the eyes of God is the grace that fuels our sanctification. The mercy that God extends to awaken us to His glory is the same mercy He extends to those who sin, fail, and stumble all along the path of becoming more like Christ.
The thing about grace is that it isn’t cut and dry. We can’t say “these people don’t deserve it because…” since we don’t deserve it either. It’s a gift from God to give to whom He wills. The heart that says a person doesn’t deserve grace is a heart that views the law as the means of determining a person’s worthiness of God’s grace, which is completely the opposite of what grace is all about.
Grace operates in the gray. It doesn’t muddy the waters of what is and isn’t sin, but it calls us out for our sin and convicts us unto repentance — change of heart, mind, and action. Grace causes the wounded to look at the wounding and say “I forgive you” when it doesn’t make sense.
Grace holds back the judgmental tongue and holds a person before the Lord out of love for that person and for God’s glory. Grace forgives a younger sibling’s annoyances, and grace forgives a spouses mistakes. Grace moves the heart to let it go.
Grace reminds us that the real tangible standard that we have to compare ourselves against are the nail pierced hands of King Jesus. Grace causes us to look at Jesus’s side where the spear pierced all the way through to His heart.
Grace drives us to our knees in repentance. Grace lifts us up in love.
Grace gives us room to make mistakes as we navigate the world of gray in which we live. Grace refuses to be clear-cut and clean. Grace is messy because it was purchased through the blood, sweat, and tears of King Jesus. Grace is messy because it requires sacrifice from the one extending it.
Grace is messy because it requires that we trust our loved ones to the Lord and pray that He saves and sanctifies in His good timing.
And Grace is messy because it strengthens us when that doesn’t happen.