Being a church rat and having wonderful, Christian parents, I have lived what the world would consider a “good life”. As a people pleaser, I avoid conflict and prefer to be the doormat or the peacemaker quite often and so have been labeled a “good kid”. Though I spent most of my life learning that I was a sinner who fell short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and that grace was what saved me (Ephesians 2:8-9), I did not live my life as if I really understood this. The way I viewed others, especially in comparison to myself, was harsh, unfair, and unjust. But then, the Lord began to do a painful but important work in my life. I am quite certain the root of the sin that humbled me existed long before the fruit was born, but I of course made excuses for it, thinking it was quite harmless. But as the Lord would have it, that tiny seed I glossed over became a plant, humbling me painfully, showing me that apart from God’s grace I would be just as sinful as those I judged. It amazed me that sin could be used in such a way, to reveal something so essential to God’s character, but it most certainly did. It made my salvation that much sweeter, God’s mercy that much more clear, and His grace quite evident. Getting a taste of the depth of my sin did not only deepen my view of God, however, it also began to grow my sense of grace towards others. Whereas before I could not understand or sympathize with a great majority of the “sinners” around me, it suddenly became so clear that I was as in much need of grace as they were. The stories of the Pharisees not getting it when Christ told them it was the sick that needed a doctor finally broke through to me and I understood that I was alive in Christ but ill because I still needed His gracious work in my life as I worked out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Of course, that does not give me the excuse to go on sinning, rather, the grace is constantly motivating me to flee from the sin that steals my joy and interferes with my relationship with God. Because I know that through grace Christ has set my relationship right with the Father, and that He saved me to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), I want to sow to the Spirit so that I can live by the Spirit. While this is by no means easy, I know that even when I do make mistakes, that God promises to forgive us of our sins. And so as I continue to run the race, my prayer is that I will understand grace more and more daily, trusting that the Lord is good and faithful, and will continue to extend it to me until the good work He began in me is carried out into completion.