More God. Less Guilt.

Devotional

Our Options

We often think there are only two options when it comes to having a relationship with God.

  • Option 1 – Perfection: We live a life without mistakes.
  • Option 2 – Give Up:  Once we realize perfection is impossible, we quit.  

It sounds pretty simple. But when it comes down to it, it really is that simple.  

If we lived "under law," these would be the only two options: personal perfection or a personal rejection of God. But Christ revealed a third option, an option that can happen only "under grace." 

  • Option 3 – Grace:  We recognize that Christ died for us, revealing God's desire to have a relationship with us as imperfect people. We then accept God's undeserved but necessary gift of unconditional love called grace and let this love change us over time.  

It's not that God doesn't want to make us holy, it's that he wants to love us before we have become holy. He wants that unconditional love to be the model for what real holiness is. God loves you as a sinner. He loves you before anything in your life has changed. He needs to do that, and you need to receive that so that you can then learn how to truly love yourself and others: unconditionally. You can't make yourself holy. But accepting that you can be loved while you have been unholy is the first step toward the authentic holiness that comes from God "under grace."

Living Under Law

Of course, you can pursue a relationship with God "under law" and without grace if you would like. Many people do try, but it will only lead to guilt, shame, and scrupulosity. 

You can try to live "under law" and try to deserve God's approval with your good behavior by attempting to meet all of God's standards in every aspect of your life. People do try to deserve God's approval in this way. I know I have. However, when we try this, we usually end up either deceiving ourselves about ourselves or about God's law to make it work. None of us can live a perfect, sinless life and win God's approval "under law" or under fairness. In fact, if you've already sinned once, you actually can't win God's approval "under law" any more anyway–you need a different standard from God. You need grace.

Reflect

Have I ever been tempted to give up on my relationship with God? Why? What were the root causes? Was I living under law instead of under grace in my thinking at that time?

Have I ever made it more difficult for someone else to live "under grace" through my interactions with them as a Christian? Did this lead them closer to Christ or further away?

Have I ever tried to pursue holiness to get God to love me instead of because he already loves me? What was that like? Is that what God really wants?