“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (II Corinthians 6:1)
My efforts to further unravel the mystery of grace led me to believe that God is continually lavishing grace on His children. But He revealed to my heart that there are certain attitudes that can hinder grace. I call them grace busters. Unfortunately, I am very familiar with these attitudes since I adopted them and lived in fellowship with them for years.
My anger and pity parties served no purpose other than to pull me into a dark pit and separate me from the fruitful life promised in Scripture. Thankfully, we’re never too old to learn, and God is patient and willing to teach even the most stubborn hearts.
The first grace buster is anger. The Scriptures admonish us to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” James 1:20 states, “for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
Yes, there is righteos anger, but scriptural examples are directed toward sin, not circumstances. But even in genuine cases of righteous anger, the above verses in James admonish us to walk very carefully through what could be a grace-busting minefield. As I learned the hard way, anger destroys. It steals our joy, compromises our Christian witness, stunts our spiritual growth, and separates us from the One who longs to give us victory.
Next is self-pity. Self-pity has a couple buddies named bitterness and envy. I’m sure all of us have met them. These guys flourish in our “me” culture and remind us that the person next to us owns more, has more fun, and seems to walk an easier road. My advice is to avoid them at all cost. Trust me, there is nothing we can own, no activity we can engage in, no relationship we can have that will be more satisfying than the joy we will experience when grace permeates our souls.
James (3:-14-15) tells us that bitter envy and selfish ambition “does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.” We are called to be “content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Phil. 4:12)
Contentment is a tall order when we are constantly told that not only do we need more of everything, but we need the latest, fastest, and most technically advanced on the market. Contentment is a tall order when our culture places a high premium on beauty, brains, and bling. We live shoulder-to-shoulder with millions who embrace these philosophies with fervor.
Ours is an overindulged society. Our focus is challenged enough by the world, but this skewed sense of entitlement is even trumpeted from some pulpits, a phenomenon foretold in the Scriptures:
“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (II Timothy 4:3-4)
“If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to Godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” *(I Timothy 6:3-5)
Can we choose to be content?
Pride is our next grace buster. I Peter 5:5b says that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” The Holy Spirit can’t fill us if we are full of ourselves. I know this because pride placed me in a grace vacuum for years. We must learn to walk in genuine humility in order to receive grace. Genuine humility is not continually thinking or saying, “I’m not worthy.” We can be so focused on our own humility that we are still full of ourselves! Who occupies our thoughts? Where is our focus?
Lastly, we must be wary of the twin dangers of unconfessed sin and lack of repentance.
According to Romans 8:6, “The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” Sin and grace cannot coexist peacefully in the heart. Without peace, there is no joy. We absolutely must confess and repent.
I remember how surprised I was when my own self-indulgent living left me miserable. I believe God led me to Romans 8:6 to explain this phenomenon.
One clear path to genuine joy is obedience. When we walk in obedience to God’s will and call, grace is a reality.
Believers throughout history have walked in grace through horrific circumstances to the glory of God. This miracle has been the catalyst for the world-wide spread of the gospel.
Let’s examine our hearts for grace busters. Identify them and then leave them at the base of the cross.
Let the miracle begin.
Joy in Jesus,