A Blend of Grace and Effort

November 4, 2014

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As humans we tend to go to extremes. The idea of tension and living in the midst of it is difficult. We are a people of “either or”, not “both”.

In writings and teaching about grace and works, you often get this as well. Very few talk about the balance between the two, rather than isolating one or the other.

As I speak and write on grace I feel this tension.

I know some of my posts on grace will anger the “effort” crowd, while there are others in our midst who despise any mention of our part and responsibility.

We label people in the camps of “Hyper-Grace”, “Sloppy Agape, “Holiness movements”, or “Legalists”.

As if there is no grace in holiness or any responsibility in the promotion of freedom.

I’ve posted many “Grace” posts such as:

An overemphasis on this has led people in the past to antinomianism or a life where you ask “Can I Do Whatever I Want?

I’ve also posted many times highlighting our part of the growth journey such as:

If we only focus on our part of the partnership, we can find ourselves in a self-improvement plan, a self centered bless me gospel, or even legalism.

In all honesty, it is difficult to present the entire picture of both grace and self effort in a 45 minute preaching or a 500 word blog post.

When I speak to audiences I do feel compelled to boldly proclaim the concept of grace, but to never neglect a response of holiness.

These are not opposed to each other.

Rather we need a blend of Grace and Effort. Just like some of the best coffees in the world, the depth of flavor comes from blending multiple origins of beans. The Christian life at its best is a blending of multiple truths and focuses harmonizing to create something beautiful.

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I may tend to emphasize the grace side of the coin more. I feel it is our default human nature to turn to our part and our responsibility. Given a choice we will always resort to going it alone, rather than in dependence on God.

You will find effort in all religions and systems of the world. But it is only in Christianity where grace is found. It is what makes us unique, and in my opinion it is what makes Christianity true.

I don’t apologize for this, in fact it is part of my call from God.

But I do realize, in a quote or a singular post we grace lovers can and will be misrepresented. There will be accusations of being this or that in the name of an extreme.

We constantly make adjustments in our lives. Sometimes we lean more on the side of grace, and in other seasons we need a kick in the pants to respond to grace with holiness.

If I were to sum it up as to the blend and balance of the two, I would word it this way.

We’ve been given grace. As a response to this undeserved gift, we show our gratitude by responding with effort, holiness, and good deeds. Not to enhance the gift of grace, but to demonstrate our understanding of its value and worth in our lives.

How about you? What season are you in? Is it a season where grace is being emphasized more or our efforts and good deeds?

photo credit: Nic Taylor Photography via photopin cc

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God