How Grace Can Change Your Life
Written by Jennifer Weatherly, Communications & Administrative Manager. You can learn more about Jennifer and support her work at FHI here!
If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask.
1 John 3:20-21
When your heart speaks, does it ever condemn you, speaking words of criticism and judgment? Have you ever been in a place of having no confidence before God?
Maybe it was after a moment wherein you overreacted—lashed out in anger—in a way that hurt someone you loved. Maybe, in that moment, you realized what you were doing, and barely recognized yourself.
What a strange feeling—one that can send us into a tailspin of hating and berating ourselves.
We’re called to live out of the truth stated in Romans 8:1, that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” But when we only know that truth in our heads, and our hearts can’t take it in, then it won’t make much of a difference in our daily lives.
A pattern of self-condemnation keeps the power of grace from flooding every corner of your life, and from soaking and cleansing everything so the new life God wants for you can take shape. It creates distorted self-images, and distorted views of God, leading to overwrought ideas about the size of our sins.
Overwhelmed By Our Own Sin
It’s true that there are times when we see our sin as smaller than it is, failing to take into account how it hurts others. But more commonly, we tend to see our sin as big—even insurmountable.
This dwarfs God’s grace, and gives Him little to no credence. We devalue the work He has already done to erase the stain of sin.
It’s a mindset that leaves us unbelievably vulnerable to the enemy’s lies. Our self-talk takes a turn that reflects his harshness and cruelty: “I’m worthless.” “I’m unlovable.” “There’s no hope for me to change.”
Yet in his lies, the enemy shows his hand, because they reflect the reality that we do need love, and need to have hope. These deep needs make us human, and are entirely legitimate. But when we choose to believe those lies anyway, we start seeking to meet our own needs, often in illegitimate ways, failing to see that God wants to be the Father who meets our every need.
It’s similar to, for example, being addicted to snacks and junk food. We try to sate real hunger with anything greasy, salty, or sweet—or even too much of something healthful—because we cannot believe or comprehend that normal portions, or the simplicity of plant-based foods, could ever be satisfying enough.
And just as with any addiction, we fall into a cycle of striving to be “better,” while only really spinning our wheels. Like cars stuck in the mud, we get nowhere near where we want to be by attempting perfection. Perfection is impossible, by definition, and when we fail to reach it, the lies rise up once again. Our hearts condemn us once again.
But God, as the verse says, is greater than our hearts, and He knows the truth. The truth is this: His grace is sufficient. And as I heard it recently said, Jesus is not obsessed with your sin. He is obsessed with your health.
Of course He is—He wants us to be well! He wants us to be whole, and spiritually healthy. He wants us to thrive.
So how do we get to a place where our hearts do not condemn us—a place where we can receive and know love, truth, and grace?
Letting Grace Change Your Life
- Admit that you have believed a lie
When we are not honest with ourselves, it’s like having peripheral blindness. It makes it easy to fall into certain ditches and ruts, such as self-pity. Coming out of denial is powerful, though, and allows us to see with a wider frame of perspective than before. We need to allow ourselves quiet moments within which we can be vulnerable with ourselves, and with God.
Only when we admit we’ve been lied to can we come closer to receiving the truth.
- Ask God for His truth
In your time alone with the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit what the truth is in your specific situation. Trust that He will reveal it to you in a way that your spirit can receive. Odds are, the answer will surprise you—and give you a realization of how deeply you are loved.
- Accept the gift of grace
Grace, by definition, cannot be earned. It is the gift of breathing room—undeserved, but ever welcome. It cannot be adequately explained; it must be experienced. As such, I believe that we are able to accept it when we know what it feels like. Ask to experience—to see—His grace, and in coming to know the capacity and depth of this gift, you can accept it, too.
Grace truly changes everything, and gives us unparalleled freedom—but only if we allow it to, and allow He who knows everything to give us the truth.
Perhaps this quote, from writer and psychologist Dr. Kelly Flanagan, highlights its power and sums it up best:
“Perhaps it is time to quit seeking change and to begin seeking grace. And when you lean into the embrace, you will discover that your frantic effort to become someone else is replaced by a blessed peace with being you. Finally.”
It truly is that simple, and it’s all you have to do: relax into who He has made you to be. Finally.
Ready to let the power of grace break in and send you on a new journey? You can start by making an appointment for prayer counseling, or joining us for one of our upcoming events. In Richmond, Virginia, Freedom From Anger is a two-hour seminar being held on Saturday, June 17th; the class Prayers That Heal The Heart starts on June 22nd and runs for 8 weeks. You can learn more and register here.
To make a prayer counseling appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 571-393-1278. You will receive a response in no later than 1 business day.
“A Manifesto For Grace: How A Radical Embrace Changes Everything,” from Kelly Flanagan’s UnTangled blog
“Do You Believe What God Believes About You?”, from Graham Cooke’s Brilliant Perspectives blog