Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 15: The Message of Grace

Scripture to reflect upon: Galatians 5:13
For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

My husband and I have had a deep revelation of the gospel according to grace. It has quite literally transformed our walk with Christ. We see scriptures in a whole new light, and as Jesus said, our yoke is now easy, the way God intended it to be.

I know a few weeks ago I promised to use scriptures from Romans 12, but I want to divert our attention from that for a while and focus on the notion of grace and how it pertains to marriage.

Last night Jared and I were discussing how our perception of God has changed since relying solely on grace rather than the Law. I have noticed since I started viewing my opinion on the subject I am greeted with horrific looks of disbelief and uncertainty about my walk. I know many people don’t care for Joel Osteen’s ministry, or believe that grace is an easy way out and an excuse to do whatever we want. The best way, though, that I was able to describe it was by relating it to my marriage with Jared.

Jared loves me the way no other person on the planet has. He loves me during the good and the bad. Not once in our marriage has Jared ever doubted his decision to be married to me. Even when I’m at my worse, he adores me still. During those moments, Jared simply stands back, lets me vent, and quietly listens. Upon watching this and realizing that my outbursts don’t rile him up, I immediately find peace within and I’m able to let it go almost automatically, without hesitation.

This is the message of grace: Where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20).

Because of Jared’s amazing unconditional love for me, I have no desire to do anything to hurt him. Naturally, it became so easy to be “good” with Jared. In other relationships, I had to fight my desires to do bad, or go out, or not be tempted by other men. They were constant struggles. I was always kicking and screaming in every relationship before Jared. I was angry, restless, annoyed, frustrated, and love starved. Jared made it easy to be loved and to be loving.

This is the message of grace: God’s love brings out our natural ability to bear the fruit of the spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22)

Jared’s love (replace this with God’s love) is so perfect and so good, that it changed me for the better. I was finally able to rest in who I am and never feel ashamed about my past or my flaws. I’ve said it before, Jared found my flaws enduring, and even the first encounter with him as I was being rude and disrespectful, he felt drawn to me.

This is the message of grace: Christ has liberated us to be free (Galatians 5:1).

Because Jared loves me the way that he does, I aim at pleasing him. I desire to be good to him. My fleshly desires have been completely removed from me. I don’t need to seek out love in other places, because I know nothing I do will change his love for me.

This is the message of grace: Through the obedience of [Jesus] many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

Jesus served us…through love. Because of that love we are able to be righteous and good. It creates in us a desire to do good deeds, and to love others. In our marriages, we need to live the message of grace with one another. When we love fully and unconditionally, that is grace; and that grace will provoke our spouse to love us in return the same. It will literally transform their way of thinking and their relationship with you, the way Jared’s love for me changed me.

ACTION PLAN: Consider for a moment what your gut reaction is when your spouse does something upsetting. Do you start wishing they were another way, or begin fantasizing about being single again? Do you spend most of your time trying to change your partner, or punishing them for things they’ve done to hurt you?

My action plan for today is simple. I want you to consider God’s love for YOU, which includes an abundance of grace. Do you even know what grace means? It means favor or goodwill (kindness, love, benignity); a manifestation of favor (forgiveness, charity, mercifulness); mercy; clemency; pardon.

GO FURTHER: Take grace to the next level and project God’s love for you to your spouse! Again, reread what grace means and apply it in your marriage. Remember to love your spouse MORE when they irritate or aggravate you. Find ways to manifest favor and goodwill for your spouse.

Discuss grace with your spouse. Dig into God’s Word and study His grace. Discover how you can incorporate grace into your partnership with one another.

FACT: Living by grace and not by works manifests the fruits of the Spirit.

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