As we advance in our spiritual walk with Christ most of us become a bit prideful. I have seen it with me. You know, the girl who does not give in when she’s tempted. The girl who attends two Sunday services. The girl who’s always at every called meeting with the spiritual authority. The girl who has just turned one year with the Lord and feels like everybody should just acknowledge and applaud for her. We don’t verbalize it, but our hearts are crying out for approval and recognition. What a waste of a Christian life that is, living for the approval of people.
I went to Jo’burg, I kissed a man. I went to Mafikeng, I held a man so closely feeling his body on mine. I went to Schweizer-Reneke, I became gluttonous and stagnant in my spiritual walk. I came back to Bloemfontein, and I flirt with a man. Everything was happening just so fast! All these activities produced a strong desire within me to give into sexual immorality. So constantly I had to fight thoughts, thoughts that perhaps I want to think about because they give pleasure. I constantly had to fight the overwhelming temptation flooding over me to quit and do what everyone else is doing. “Could this be God testing me?” I ask myself. Nope, God has nothing to do with it. It is your sinful nature and desire to sin that’s causing all this. How serious are you about resisting the devil? (Submit yourself then, to God. Resist the Devil, and he will flee. James4:7). But…but I thought I was strong, I thought I pray more than everybody else. I thought that I don’t drink, I don’t sleep around, I fast? I thought all this was enough? No, you are not so “righteous” that God has to test you. It is your own corrupt desire that’s bringing you to the point of giving up. (For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Romans6:19).
When we get to a point of spiritual weakness we automatically shift the main point of living for Jesus, to the point of seeking approval from others. I remember during my teaching practical in Schweizer last term, some of the people I prayed for during the December holidays came through to see me. I automatically assumed that they want a word of encouragement from me or a prayer or something, so I’d just feel myself changing my voice and gesture trying to testify about the good things that God had done for me because I prayed. Honestly, the testimonies had no effect, I could feel it and it was embarrassing because I was trying to prove that I was still the same fired-up spiritual person from the December holidays while I was not because I was not communing with God as much as I did that time. They would cheer me up, you know, showing me respect and all, because I prayed for them and they feel that they are probably under my mercy. I think it was the honor I got from them that made me feel that at least I’m spiritual; I have not changed in people’s eyes. But what about God’s eyes? Well, God does not really matter for now, let me just demonstrate my acts of holiness and strong faith to those around me.
I can do this in my own strength=LIE!
Ok, so you feel like you have reached your highest peak of holiness and you know more about God than everybody else. You feel that you now know the tactics of the devil and how to dodge the temptation he throws at you. At this point I found myself thinking, “I didn’t know that if they said we’ll be tempted it will be this much.” I literally felt like there was no escape. Here is a guy who stays right next to my room, who’s got a deep voice, who offers to buy me things when he comes back from work, who takes me to his basketball game and tells his friends that I’m his girl!!? Who doesn’t even say anything about sex but got a smooth charm in his voice. Yet on the other hand I’m thinking about the church guy from home who’s also promising me heaven on earth. It’s like the more I attempt to use my own strength to run away from temptation, the more I just felt overwhelmed. Here is a place of no escape once again, where you realize that the laws or rules that you live by are not strong enough to carry you through. You need something stronger, you need grace!
Grace humbles you.
We hear messages about grace too many a times, but you have to experience it personally in order for you to understand what grace actually means. If there’s one person who knows and understands what grace is in the bible it’s Paul. (For I am the least of the Apostles that I am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1Corinthians 15:9). There I was thinking that I am so holy but I faced the most intense temptation that made me look filthy in God’s presence. I was too small and this grace is huge and all God says is, step out and step in to this new grace. I realize then that even if I might be involved in spiritual activities more than everybody else I am still the worst sinner. Grace humbles me to see that we are all truly the same in God’s eyes, even that person who just got born again yesterday, or that one who does not remember the date she gave her life to Jesus. I have what I have; I can do what I can do today because of God’s grace. (But by the grace of God, I am what I am. 1Corinthians 15:10).
Grace protects you from sin
Unlike the laws and the standards that have been made and physical determination is required to fulfill them, God’s grace is free and it keeps you away from sin. (The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 1Corinthians 15:56). See, if you have really caught the concept of grace and not just claim that you know it, it will be impossible for you to sin. When you know grace you know God for who He is. (Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 1John3:6). When I told myself that I will not kiss, I found myself kissing, even wanting it badly, such lasciviousness, but when I step in the grace my God offers, I do not even think of kissing. His grace keeps my eyes set on the finish line. Yes, there will be temptations just like the common temptation everyone face, but it is only God’s grace that can carry you through to your destiny. Understand the concept of grace, experience it, and cry out for it!
I don’t want you to look at me and think that I’m strong, I’m perfect, I’m bold, nay, I don’t have time for that. I want you to understand that I’m weak but I have a strong God. I err, but I have a perfect God. I am tempted but I have a faithful God. It is His grace that makes the Christian life possible.
I have been feeling really less spiritual lately; it’s a good thing I should say because it compels me to know more about God by reading His Word. When I feel so worthless and weak what does He have to say, that’s what I want to find out. (And God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you. 2Corinthians 9:8). I might not pray in tongues as I used to, but it’s okay because it’s not about my tongues or my gifts or my abilities. It’s about God. When the tongues and the gifts ceases His grace will always be there that is why we have to cling on to it. I’d love one day to lead nations and lay hands on the sick, but that is not my primary prayer anymore. I just want grace every single moment of my life to help me follow Him with all sincerity and truth.
Grace exposes the matters of the heart.
God’s grace is so pure that it shows in transparency what lies in the heart of the believer. I was about to pray for my physical needs one afternoon and the Holy Spirit says, how about we now pray about matters of the heart. You know that you have not been doing well but you pretend that you are still on the right path. Don’t lie to yourself; don’t fool yourself or try to fool God. Why go to praise and worship meetings and immediately hurry to post the picture on social networks? Honestly. Is it because you want people to see that you are righteous? Is it because you want to stir envy in the hearts of non-believers and believers alike? Is it because you have fallen so short of the glory that you need to prove to somebody that you are still on the right track? So is prayer, so is your worship in the church, so is your status updates on social networks, so is your hopping from one meeting to another. I am not saying that it is wrong but I just want to ask, what it is the motive behind all that? Check the motive behind everything that you do even a simple thing like updating your status on Twitter. Now instead of praying for physical needs and everything else, I prayed for sincerity and truth. I do not want to live my life for people. I do not want to spend time with God because I feel that I’m accountable to my blog readers or my twitter followers. I don’t just want to flee temptation in order for me boast about my strength, I want a sincere heart.
Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight. Jeremiah 9:23-24
God says I don’t want you to tell me about what you do for me. I don’t want you to boast about your strengths, your beauty, your degree, your talent, your money; I want you to understand that I am a gracious God. If you live under the shadow of His grace, you sow in corruption but will be raised in incorruption. You sow in dishonor and you will be raised in honor. You sow in weakness but you will be raised in power.
Grace pushes you forward to your destiny.
When you feel like you have failed God so much the only natural thing that you’d want to do is give up and just be like everybody else around you. The things of God are eternal and permanent so they naturally take time unlike the superficial things the world has to offer. And while we wait on God to fulfill his purpose in our lives, we will fall; we will feel like giving up, we will get discouraged…I like how Holley Gerth puts it in her book, “Youre made for a God-Sized Dream”
“One phrase keeps reverberating through my being
If not for grace, if not for grace…
If not for grace our dreams would never come true.
Because I can tell you from experience…
You will cry at the wrong time
You will say that awkward thing
You will forget what to do in the most important moment
And God, in his grace will carry on with his plan anyway.
You will fail at least once,
And probably more.
You will think you are incapable, and sometimes you will be.
But God will use you anyway.
You will miss opportunity
You will take steps you shouldn’t
You will walk through the wrong doors and shut the right ones
But somehow, God will get you there anyway.
You will be hard to live with sometimes
You will fall short
You will forget to stand tall
And God, unconcerned about what’s cool, will say, “That one is mine anyway.”
Dreams don’t make sense because they come from the one whose ways are not our ways
They flow from the one who stubbornly believes in grace.
If not for grace…we wouldn’t take a step
Because it is grace that paves the road to our dreams
And we walk it, unworthy, utterly broken, and entirely loved.”
With the grace of God this life is really possible. I went to a prayer meeting for our city Bloemfontein last night at the Mimosa Mall, and they were prophesying saying that now is not the time to get weak, now it’s not the time to give up. It’s the time to arise and shine for your light has come. Arise and shine because God’s grace is leading you every step of the way!
His grace which He has bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I but the grace of God which was with me. ~1Corinthians 15:10