This might sound strange, but my spelling and grammar auto-correct wouldn’t work on my prayer-journaling document no matter what a tried (but is now working on my sharing document!), and I suddenly realized that it was a lesson in maturity.
We can get used to grace covering us in everything so that we treat justification as always making us right with God even while we know we aren’t being right with him. It can develop an attitude of entitlement that relates to life as though it is always God’s job to make sure that what we are doing comes across as righteous, rather than us living out our responsibility to get it right, so to speak.
What I realized (as I was being forced to do my own fixing) was that my increased participation in correcting myself was working to improve my skills. It wasn’t making me a better person, or even a better writer. It was simply improving my skill at typing so that I had to BECOME a better typist rather than being lazy and lackadaisical about my typing because the grace of auto-correct took care of my weaknesses.
I know the lessons are obvious, but it brings me back to the many accounts of how the people of faith made mistakes in judgment because they hit something they were not handling by faith. Noah got drunk after the post-flood reestablishment of agriculture brought in its new crops. Abram lied about who Sarai was to him. Moses killed the Egyptian slave-driver. David sinned with Bathsheba. Solomon married foreign women who led Israel into idolatry. Even Peter sinned after his Spirit-filled attachment to God by later separating himself from the Gentile Christians.
The point to me is that, while we can take comfort from the fact that the exemplary faith of these people was in the context that they were just real people like ourselves, there is also a challenge from their sins, mistakes and failures to learn to type!
On one side, the grace of justification settles our terrified little hearts that we will not be cast off for our abundance of sins because where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
On the other side, the grace of sanctification calls our imperfect hearts to grow up. We require our own experiences of spending time with Jesus so we know what it is like to be like him. We need to let ourselves join God’s self-correcting work by making corrections ourselves.
And all of this while the glory of glorification awaits us at the finish line telling us that our no-works-required justification and our get-with-the-program sanctification will not fail to bring us to the grand finale of God’s work of making us like Jesus once and for all because it has been the Triune’s work from before the beginning.
The Apostle Paul has already written the conclusion for my post, so here it is:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
If you are facing something today that feels like God requiring your participation where his grace had previously seemed to cover a weakness or sin, work out “your own” part in your sanctification with a fear-and-trembling response to God graciously working into you the very things that please him.
By the end of the day, you should feel like you have grown up that little bit more to be like your Firstborn Brother, our Lord Jesus Christ. It might even feel a bit like that description of “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” that is characteristic of God’s work.
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)