I feel like I’ve done a bunch of things wrong lately. Some justified by my own stupidity, some inferred from others. Typed in some wrong numbers in an application and now struggling with the system to get them corrected. Accused of using a photo on my blog that violates copyright and now being threatened with a fine. Asked google to delete my old blog (which they did). Got a letter back saying it had been removed, not, “at your request,” but “because it does not fit our guidelines.”
I feel like I’ve done something morally wrong. Like I’m a criminal, or a bad person. Like I’ve been caught with my hand in the cookie jar when I never actually put it in. Or accidentally put it in. The fact is I’m a rule follower and I don’t like looking bad.
Then, I spoke truth to myself: This will get sorted out. There is a solution if I keep searching for it. These things are just nuisances caused by my own fumbling, standard procedure, or phishing attempts. While they stress me out, I remind myself: I. Wrote. A. Book. I did that.
While this pep-talk is helpful, the real issue is that I am too concerned about my image. I want to be perceived as good, moral, and obedient. I fear getting caught doing something wrong. I’m tripping over rules when God offers grace.
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.Hebrews 13:9 NIV
The word for strengthened in this verse means “to make firm, establish, confirm, or make sure.”1 Grace establishes my heart in my salvation. It confirms that I am not condemned. That I do not have to follow a set of rules in order to be loved by God. That I stand firm in Christ.
“Be strengthened by my grace,” God says to me. “Grace—not rules or laws—for your blunders and mistakes and sins. Grace—unmerited favor—when you struggle with perception issues. Grace so you don’t worry or obsess about unknown consequences. Grace to make things right.”
My enemy hurls lies: You dummy. They’re gonna get you. You’re going to have to pay. And big time. Everyone is watching you. They’ll see your foibles and they’ll stop listening to you. Stop writing blogs and sharing your thoughts. It’s too scary and look what happens. Internet trolls come after you and phishing companies try to scam you. Just give it up. It’s not worth it.
Grace says: I know you made a mistake, I know they made you look bad, but God still loves and accepts you. He understands your weak frame and will strengthen it.
Another truth also encourages me:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
God’s grace is enough for me to face these hard things. Favor that I did not earn or deserve buoys me up and pushes me forward. I make mistakes. I do wrong. And yet there is grace. Grace for sin. Grace for weakness. And grace to pick up and carry on.
How can you let your heart be strengthened by grace?
I need the strength today, Lord. Establish me deep in your grace.
1 “G950 – bebaioō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (niv).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 24 Jul, 2021. https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/g950/niv/mgnt/0-1/