A friend of mine recently returned a book he had borrowed – If Grace is True, by Gulley & Mulholland. It’s one of my favorite books about one of my favorite subjects, God’s grace. Maybe I love the concept of grace because I would be lost without it, I would be someone other than who I am, if grace was not true. Since getting the book back, I have been thinking a lot about grace, and started looking for devotions on grace that I could use to begin each day of September.
I ran across this one, that I want to share with you, because it really got me thinking about the role we have in grace. I may use it for the whole month. May it speak to you, as it did to me.
By Charles Swindoll
Grace comes to us in two dimensions, vertical and horizontal. Vertical grace centers on our relationship with God. It’s amazing. It frees us from the demands and condemnation of the Mosaic Law. It nnounces hope to the sinner—the gift of eternal life, along with all its benefits.
Horizontal grace centers on our human relationships. It is charming. It frees us from the tyranny of pleasing people and adjusting our lives to the demands and expectations of human opinion. It gives relief—the enjoyment of freedom along with all its benefits. It silences needless guilt and removes self-imposed shame.
Few people realize better than non-Christians how guilt-ridden many Christians are. A lady in our congregation tells of a conversation she had with a fellow student while the two of them were students at the University of California Berkeley. He knew she was a Christian, and he made it painfully clear that he had no interest whatsoever in her faith. When she asked why, his answer bore the sting of reality: "Because the most guilt-ridden people I know are Christians. No thanks."
So take a moment, and think about your answer to these two probing questions:
1) Do you add to others' guilt or do you lessen it?
2) Are you the type of person who promotes another's liberty or restrains it?
Both questions have to do with attitude, don't they? We do what we do with others because of the way we think. Our attitude, therefore, is crucial. It is also at our mercy. We have full control of which attitude we will have: charming and gracious or restrictive and rigid. Liberty or legalism will be the result. Depending on our attitude, we will either be grace givers or grace killers.
With love in Christ,