Grace For The Journey
Americans celebrated Independence Day last Wednesday, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776. People all over our great nation gathered for a variety of activities, including parades, barbecues, and fireworks. For the next three days I want us to look at Jesus’ interaction with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-22 and discover the sobering truth about life, liberty, and happiness from a biblical perspective.
One of the inherent and unalienable rights set forth in the Declaration of Independence is the pursuit of happiness. As good and as pleasing to the ears as this phrase may be, let me say that if all we pursue is our own happiness – a fulfilling marriage, well-educated children, a successful career, etc. – then, “we shrink the size of our life down to the size of our life!” Someone has said, “This is living for something other than God.”
I trust you noticed the slight change in the title of this blog
From the well-known statement from the Declaration of Independence.
For the Christian, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of holiness”
Should be our desire as we live in the land of the free.
The world would have us believe that the greatest goal in life is personal happiness.
But Jesus did not die to make us happy,
He died to make us His;
And in making us His, He is making us holy;
And it is only by growing in holiness that we will be truly happy.
The Bible says in Psalm 119:1-3 proclaimed, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways!” In Matthew 5:6, Jesus makes it clear that happiness is rooted in, and a result of, the pursuit of holiness, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
Holiness is one of those already and not yet aspects of the Kingdom of God. We are already holy. The grace of God, through faith in Christ, has set us apart for His purposes and granted us positional holiness (justification). Through accepting what Jesus did on the cross and through the empty tomb, God sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ, just as if we had never sinned. However, we are not yet perfectly holy in our daily lives – far from it! So, the same grace that has given us positional holiness also provides for our progressive holiness (sanctification).
The grace that saved us is the grace that is sanctifying us, day by day.
The Bible says in Philippians 2:13, “It is God who works in you, both to will and to do His good pleasure”
And yet . . .
This gracious gift of God is not something we sit passively back and receive;
We are commanded to pursue holiness!
Jesus instructed His disciples to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33); Paul urged all who are mature in their faith to “Press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14-15). If we are to make progress in these areas, we must develop a heart like David’s, who prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).
So how are you doing in your own pursuit of holiness? Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? Is it as much of a struggle for you as it is for me?
Even a cursory glance at our lives reveals our rank hypocrisy.
- We profess more than we put into practice.
- We may not be committing scandalous sins, but how quickly we point to the speck in our brother’s eye while all the while neglecting the plank in our own eye!
- We are impatient, insensitive, and insincere.
- We are selfish and self-absorbed.
- We love God and our neighbor . . . as long as we believe it will lead to blessings.
- We are more concerned about “doing our own thing” than about pleasing our Lord and King!
The Bible plainly states that even the good things we do are no more than “filthy rags” in the eyes of a perfect, holy, and righteous Lord (Isaiah 64:6).
And yet . . .
For every messed up and messy child of God like you and me,
That same Bible provides an astonishing message of hope!
Because of Christ’s atoning death on our behalf, God chooses to see the image of Christ in us, rather than the absence of Christ-likeness in our lives. The Bible says in Psalms 103:11-12, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12). That truth provides our motivation to keep getting up every time we stumble and fall down. The God-breathed Scripture assures us, “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again,” (Proverbs 24:16).
All those who are united to Christ
Can live a life pleasing to God
Because of His grace – not our goodness;
Because of His mercy – not our merit.
So, how are you doing in your pursuit of “holiness?” Are you settling for just pursuing happiness? It is only as we pursue Him and His holiness that we will be truly happy.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”