I have decided to explain the name of my blog better. Actually, I was gently chided into it, by a man whom I consider an e-friend. (“E” only because I have never met him face to face, yet still, despite our differences in certain beliefs, I can see that he would be an excellent friend, because he is honest and open)
Father, help me with words here, because I’m not sure I can do justice to even the first word in this blog name, much less the second………………..
My blog name is Effortless Grace, obviously. Well, what exactly IS Effortless Grace?
Is it possible that effortless grace is that which we cannot bring about ourselves, down in the depths of our being? You know what I mean, because it’s what we long for, all of us.
Alright, WHAT do we long for?
How about to be different than we really are? How about that malcontent we carry along inside of us, which screams even more loudly than painful circumstances?
If we could guarantee success, wouldn’t we, each one of us make every effort to change that which we find to be wrong about ourselves? Let’s be honest, you know you would as well as I would.
Somewhere inside of us we long to be DIFFERENT!
Effortless grace means we can’t do it. Not that we can’t do it by ourselves. No, simply that we can’t do it AT ALL.
So why all the talk of striving recently?
Because striving isn’t something that is going to change us. Rather, it’s our response to changes being made inside of us already. In other words, effortless grace isn’t about the cessation of striving. It’s not about striving at all. Effortless grace is a reminder that the redemption we have, and the changes inside of us do not come about through our efforts, but through the efforts of God’s will working within us.
So does that make striving “wrong”? Never!
How could striving be wrong for those who are in Christ Jesus? If we are under grace, how could our striving be judged as unrighteous? It is an impossibility.
Often, when writing recently about striving, I have used the phrase “we don’t strive because we have to, we strive because we can.” Let me explain that.
In the past, while we were under judgment and not under grace, our striving was nothing more than filthy rags being piled up and burned. Nothing we did outside of the Lord and His Kingdom lasted. So truly, our efforts were worthless.
But now that we are under grace, we can do all manner of things we once couldn’t. Now, because of the grace of God, we are vessels being filled. Well, if we are vessels being filled, and not emptied, wouldn’t it follow that our efforts no longer empty us as they once did?
Effortless grace is the constant filling and using of that which God gives to us freely. It isn’t by our effort that changes are made, nor is it by our effort that we are filled. We are merely receivers and responders of the grace God has, does, and will pour into us. And if “striving” is our response to grace, then how could it ever be the wrong response?
Answer that in the comments section, because I am truly asking you, all of you that question.
We say we believe in grace, yet some of us chide and even judge others because their “deeds” don’t line up with what we consider to be grace. We look at adulterers, and say, “Well, they can’t REALLY know Jesus, because just LOOK at what they do.” Brothers and sisters, if any of us are caught up in doing that, we can be assured that we are amongst the world’s largest hypocrites. We don’t have to bless what others do, but we don’t even have the RIGHT to judge them either.
We say we believe in grace, and yet we cringe when someone tells us of the striving they do, of spiritual disciplines they are engaged in. We look to them, and say, “you may well be a legalist”. And how can we not recognize that when we think this and say it, we are not amongst the world’s largest hypocrites also?
True, some followers of Christ believe their efforts, their striving is what makes the changes inside of them. They are wrong, but they are not unrighteous. In fact, for us to judge them as so merely because of outward appearances makes us more like the Pharisees than they are. Misguided intentions are never the less still under grace.
But for me, effortless grace is about more than just the end of striving and checklists. For me, effortless grace is the cause, the generator of all my efforts in everything I do. It is not because I no longer have to strive that I am free. No, it is because I am free that I can strive. I am free from earning God’s pleasure, He is already pleased with me. I am free from condemnation, how could any effort now be condemned? I am free from death, how could my striving lead me back to that which I was set free from? It can’t.
So to better define effortless grace, I say this. Do not look at the effort as meaning earning. For the effort is merely an outpouring of what is being poured into me. In the Kingdom, that perfectly ordered reality, my efforts have a place. They do not come before grace. They come after and because of grace.
“Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you”.
Our efforts do not “create” anything. Our efforts are created, and in the kingdom, they are a natural response to the will and work of God within us. In the past, we tried to earn God’s favor by doing all manner of good works. Now, knowing we are under grace, we also know that it is God’s pleasure that we do good works, which HE CREATED FOR US.
Good works are not the cause of His pleasure. THEY ARE THE RESULT.
It is effortless because we no longer put the cart before the horse. Now, the horse is pulling the cart, and the cart is responding by moving forward. Some may say the cart is doing work, but I assure you, without the horse, the cart sits and rots. God is at work within us, He is the horse. We are the cart. He pulls us, and we move.
THAT IS EFFORTLESS GRACE.