A Definition

Standard

Grace is not earned.  It’s given. 

We are poor in spirit. 
Nothing good dwells in us. 
We are hopelessly lost without a Savior.

Our poverty of spirit may be seen in the picture of a little girl (or boy) all alone and desperate for help.  She’s been used and abused.  She’s dirty and unable to do anything for herself.  Huddled in a corner of a brokendown alley with garbage scattered about, she’s afraid.  The relentless fear of what may be in the darkness keeps her cowered.  The fear feeds her soul.  She’s crying. Not loud sobs…those have come and gone.  But a steady stream of tears flow down her face as she realizes she can do nothing to save herself. 

Hungry, filthy, worn-out. 
Nothing to give.

BUT, God.

Rich in mercy, compassion, patience, forgiveness.
The epitome of LOVE personified.

But, GOD steps into the alley of despair.  He lifts up the poor child and carries her away.  He cleanses her.  He feeds her food she’s been desperate to eat.  Food which fills and restores her ravaged body.  He holds the child close and cares for her every need…never leaving her alone.

Grace bestowed.

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13 responses »

  1. OK – i think i’m gonna need just a little clarification on this one, Sis 🙂

    Like – were you writing this more for ‘us out here’ or ‘you in there’?? 🙂

    and – was there anything in any way at a personal level in what you wrote?

    i just feel like i’m missing something here – again?

    Or were you just being very obvious this time? 🙂

    <B

  2. It’s an allegory. She represents poverty of spirit as the tax collector in the parable (Luke 18:9-14).

    None of us are worthy to come to Him. The only reason we can is because of His immeassurable grace.

    If He had not bent down to pick me up out of the darkness, I would have remained in the alley of despair. I’m thankful He loves me in my dirty, miserable state and cleanses me. Just as Hosea did for Gomer…

    Does that help?

  3. I think we find faith more than it finds us. That often doesn’t happen until we recognize the need for faith. Often it isn’t until we are in a state of desperation that we reach out for it. When we do it is always there.

    While isn’t something we earn, we do have to work at gaining trust in it. It is only when we trust faith that it will give us the hope that will lead us out of our desperate state.

  4. Hey, Ed. I understand how, from a human perspective, we imagine we are the ones who “find faith”…I felt that way at one time. And I do see there is an element of us…choosing to believe…but mostly, I see God’s sovereign choice. He says through the Son that He chose us and called us to be His own.

    In my inability to save myself I am not even able to get out of the alley. Any change that has occurred is not from my own strength. The scripture teaches there is nothing good in me. That, even my righteousness, my righteous acts are filthy rags. Only Him…it’s all by His work and through His grace I receive anything.

    It’s not faith if we’re striving for it or doing it ourselves.

  5. Beautiful, thanks Michelle. God has stepped into my alley of despair numerous times and continues to do so.

    That’s Grace.

  6. Allegory? that does indeed help my understanding of what may be ‘behind’ the post – thank you Sis 🙂

    There is a ‘but’ though (lwbut always has a ‘but’ 😉 ) and it is related to our dear friend Ed’s comment and your thoughtful response.

    You said ‘it’s not faith if we are striving for it or doing it (for?) ourselves.’ (to me this means – of/for our own egos)

    What if we are doing it for others? Because of a belief that humanity should do good and not be completely and utterly, totally evil and without a single redeeming feature (some might say saving grace?) – even if we don’t actually believe in any God?

    Do you believe such to be possible? that there may be anyone on the planet who thinks that way?

    i was thinking in relation to your allegory – that out in the ‘real’ world that little boy or girl is more often than not left to suffer – to cry and very likely sell their bodies to earn enough to eat – or frequently to buy drugs with that many would prefer to actual food. God is often no-where to be seen in fact – and also that there are actually times – which i’m not sure if Christians see or believe, when Atheists see these boys and girls and they actually do know the difference between what is wrong and right, not because they ‘know’ God but because they are actually basically ‘good’ human beings and it can be them who ‘save’ the boy or girl, feed them and either give them shelter from the evils in the world or take them to a place where there are more humans who will do so – be they people of God or people of no god.

    You might think that such people are only doing His will – while the people themselves may tell you something all together diferent – How is God glorified when those doing His work give Him no credit whatsoever? Will such people be saved? or are they just being ‘used’?

    Some issues i struggle with at times.

    Having ‘blind’ faith can at times be a blessing if it ‘saves’ us the struggle or pain of trying to understand what is the right thing – i suspect it too can also be a curse at other times as when it may lead us to accept the wrong thing too easily.

    I don’t think i have reached the ‘Blind’ Faith stage yet in my ‘walk’.:-\

    <B

  7. Thank you, Rain. He keeps coming to me too. I am so grateful that His steadfast love never ceases and His mercies never come to an end. Keep praying for me…please. I’m praying for you.

    Good Morning, Love. Jesus said:

    If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! ~Matthew 7:11

    Even we, evil people, can give good gifts. We are able to do good works/acts that will benefit mankind. We are able to help one another without the Spirit of God within. And that is having faith in man on earth. Humanism.

    But when we talk about saving faith, what are we being saved for? Heaven. Or from? Hell.

    I, being evil, but capable of doing some “good” things on earth, will never be “good enough” for heaven. I can’t stand before a Holy God and give Him anything of my hands that will be worthy. Only Jesus is worthy. Only Jesus lived a life free from sin. Only Jesus is able to bring me to the Father. He is my substitution, my Redeemer. He bought me back from the grave and gives me salvation through His work on the cross. That is the only work worthy of acceptance. His sacrifice for me…for you…for mankind.

    But I’m not sure how we moved from grace to faith. They are not one and the same.

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. ~Eph. 2:8

    I cannot save myself through any work I do. Only by His grace — a free gift from Him. If He did not choose to walk into my alley of despair (and we are ALL despairing without Him) then I would have stayed in my helpless state, never knowing salvation could be mine.

    Through faith…faith is believing. Because I believe the truth about Him…because I believe His sacrificial work on the cross is my substitute…I am covered in Him and am able to come before His throne washed clean of my sin. Without faith no man can please God. Faith in what? In Him.

    And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. ~Hebrews 11:6

    Grace and faith are not synonymous. Faith and belief are synonymous.

    Grace comes before faith and follows after.
    Grace is unmerited favor…He gives and gives and gives and gives and gives…

    He’s just good like that.

    Oh, how He loves us so…oh how He loves us…how He loves us so…

  8. A beautiful picture of grace, Michelle, thank you.

    ‘But, God.’

    I love that, at the heart of this writing, the turning point 🙂

    It’s funny, I’ve come across this phrase three times in the past week, for the first time. It’s powerful.

  9. Good points Sis! 🙂

    i was directing my comments more to Faith and the ability of humans to actually know the difference between good and evil – even if they do not believe in or declare to know God – as Ed and you were discussing and not so much towards His Grace. (Apologies if i went ‘off-topic’ a little).

    <B

  10. Hey, Birg! I love that phrase, “But, God.” One of our pastors says the Bible has the biggest buts…hahaha! It is powerful. HE makes all the difference.
    ♥ ♥ ♥

    Thanks, Love. I could tell you were coming at it from a different angle. I just felt it necessary to clarify the vocabulary. It took me a long time to understand the different words…I’m quite slow…no need for apologies. 😉
    ♥ ♥ ♥

  11. 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
    29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

    There’s chance for you to get your wish yet, Sis 😉

    But truly – while i will not futilely argue against what Paul has said – i would hope you were able to see things with both eyes open and not just one.

    All the things Paul accuses Gentiles of Jesus has referred to, and the Jews in the Torah/OT have proven themselves also guilty of – why then wish to be as them?? You are as much a part of God’s plan now as if you had been born to Jewish parents.

    Concerning the ‘blindness’ or ‘hardness’ of the heart. There are exactly 5 references to this hardness in the KJV and in four of them Jesus is referring to the Jews (Matt 19:8; Mk 3:5; 10:5 and 16:14) and in the other (Romans 2:5) Paul is.

    It was a Jew who betrayed Jesus and it was the Jewish leaders, supported by the Jewish crowd, not the gentiles, who had Him executed.

    The OT is a long litany of the Jewish people choosing to turn away from God and them receiving what was due to them for that (exile and various punishments, never being allowed to live in Peace under His Protection). They even chose to do it under the very sight of God when Moses was talking with Him on Mt Sinaii in the wilderness – with the Pillar of Cloud wherein God was leading them for 40 years in the wilderness (again as punishment for their rebellion) and you think being Jewish makes you somehow God’s favourite??

    The very few Jews who actually did stay true to God were and seemingly remain very much in the minority of the Jewish People and as you say – we are now in the period after Christ – where it is crystal clear to anyone with God in their hearts that Jesus is God’s only begotten Son and STILL the Jewish people do not see or in any way honour this – even though He was one of them!!?

    Please Sis – Open Both eyes wide and see clearly that you are blessed already. Being Jewish in name/heritage would offer you more cursing from God than blessings, statistically speaking.

    It’s a little like saying you wished you had been descended directly from Adam because he was made perfect by God Himself and not remembering that God destroyed the world for the sins of Adam that had spread all throughout the world – only Noah and His immediate family were saved, Then blessed.

    What would your chances to have been born into Noah’s immediate family if you had also been born descended from Adam just before the flood? None too good i suspect and it would have been most likely that you would have received God’s wrath instead.

    Being born a gentile and believing in Jesus Christ might just offer you a greater chance of making it in the end times than being born into a Jewish Family… maybe? 🙂

    Do you think that even after Jesus came to save the lost (ie. All Jews) from the fold that today ALL Jews now follow perfectly God’s will here on Earth?? – i look at Israel today and the past 60 year history of the new ‘nation’ and find it very hard to believe indeed. Their hearts mostly seem to be as hard as in the wilderness still.

    i see many people there doing man’s will more than God’s.
    Trusting more in the latest military weapons given them by America than in God’s Strength to protect them and making no effort whatsoever to live in Peace with their neighbours. (let’s face it the neighbours are not moving any time soon).

    Again – perhaps we are seeing things from different angles but His Truth should be what is followed.

    Not our darkened visions of it. 8)

    <B

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