The Courage of Grace

HFA XKRT KRT ENTERTAINMENT STORY SLUGGED: HEMINGWAY KRT PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF THE JOHN F. KENNEDY LIBRARY (KRT119-July 19) Ernest Hemingway writing at a desk while on safari in 1953. This picture is included in the exhibition "Picturing Hemingway: A Writer in His Times," on view at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. through November 7, 1999. (KRT) PL KD (B&W ONLY) 1999 (Vert) (jak)

A gift is an offering, we don’t really have to receive it. We can reject well-intentioned presents and go without whatever benefit they may have provided us. If we accept them, however, the burden of ownership comes with them.

If someone were to give you a house, you’d be responsible for upkeep. If someone were to give you a car, you’d have to obey traffic laws and safety precautions. The receipt of the gift brought about the responsibility of ownership.

Grace comes with an invitation. The invitation of grace is not only more grace, but greater glory. If we can receive what God offers us through the grace of Jesus, we can increasingly step into greater maturity. Greater maturity comes with the stewardship of what we already have. That stewardship includes the idea of building the Kingdom of God, not just sitting back and receiving the benefits of grace. 

When we know Jesus, He is going to invite us into Kingdom building stuff. That stuff is often uncomfortable and challenging. We don’t get to do stuff that’s to our glory; we are invited into agreement with His stuff to His glory. That means that the ability to do the stuff is beyond our limitations and control.

That means grace requires courage. If we are willing to step out of our comfort zone to accept invitations into Kingdom building that exceed our capacity, we have to depend on an invisible God. We have to trust in faith and stretch our comfort beyond our fears and doubts. We have to expose ourselves to embarrassment and failure dependent on God coming through in the stuff He invites us into. That takes courage.

Within our “yes” to these invitations are opportunities for success as well as failure. Both success and failure accomplish the Kingdom purposes they are intended. The things that the world may deem “failures” work out the “us” that is within us to give way to God in us. We die to ourselves in failure to equip us for the successes. To the degree that we have adequately crucified our selfishness, we are prepared to walk into the successes.

There’s always more for us to develop and mature in. To the degree that we’ll allow for the discomfort that come’s with the stretching, we’ll be increasingly equipped to receive. The way we know our capacity for receipt is the degree to which we are willing to give glory to God where we might otherwise be tempted to think we’ve done something.

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