Words of Grace
(This morning begins a simple and important series of posts that will offer words of encouragement to begin the week. The weeks of the holidays and winter can be discouraging, even depressing, as we struggle to find the joy. We all seem to have negative words stuck in our heads, telling us lies about ourselves. These “Words of Grace” will be for believers, those who have come to God through faith in Jesus. Watch for these posts each Monday. I hope you are lifted up!)
When identity is based on performance, you can never do enough. When identity is based on appearance or talent, you can never be good enough. The most successful people often feel as though they lack something to be accepted. The most beautiful people or popular people think of their flaws. So how could the rest of us have any hope?
We strive not so much to better ourselves, but to feel better about ourselves. Perhaps because of the way we were raised, perhaps because of the competitive world into which we were thrust, or perhaps because of the betrayal and rejection we have experienced—we can find it very hard to believe that we are finally accepted. The negative words ring in our ears.
Where do you go to find acceptance, real acceptance that settles the matter in your heart? To work? To your family? To your friends? We want to be accepted in all those groups; but, even if we are, we can still feel that something is lacking. There is only one opinion that brings the satisfaction and closure we need.
So many go to church on Sunday and hear all about what they have done wrong. They come away believing that God does not accept them, that they will never be good enough. Their sin and weakness lie heavy on their hearts, made even heavier by the preacher’s words. Surely acceptance is not to be found with God, they think.
But the good news is that we are accepted! One of the basic definitions of grace is to make someone or something accepted, to accept someone. God accepts you! When your identity is based on His love, you are finally good enough.
We have learned through experience that love is not quite the same as acceptance, so we might believe God loves us and still doubt that He accepts us. We have learned that He has saved us, but we have been taught that He does so in spite of His feelings about us. Some people think that God will tolerate them because of Jesus. They believe that they are “dirty rotten sinners” in His sight and that He must look at Jesus to receive them into His presence. But the truth is that God accepts you and me, as individuals, because of Jesus.
Paul understood. He said:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 (NKJV)
“He has made us accepted.” Notice that it does not say He will accept us. Nor does it say He has made us acceptable. He has made us accepted. It’s a done deal. It doesn’t even say that He accepts us. That would feel weaker to us. Yes, God accepts us, but that’s because He has to, we might think. No, He has made us accepted. His grace has been sufficient in us.
This is a big deal! You can stop trying to measure up. You can stop striving to find acceptance in the world around you. Whether it is the negative voices that come from your past, the rejection of a loved one or friend, or the fear of failure in spiritual things—the decision has been made. You are accepted. You are good enough.
So, through this week, tell yourself the truth: