Yesterday, I was listening to a message by Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Keller has become one of my favorite Christian preachers and authors over the years. While listening yesterday, I was particularly struck by the following statement, “Jesus turns slaves into children and duty into choice.” In that statement we see the liberating power of grace.
There is a truth that I have had to come to grips with in the past few years, inside of all of us lives a legalist attempting to do more or to be more so that God will be pleased with us. As a result, our relationship with God tends to resemble a master/slave relationship instead of a father/child relationship and our doing often becomes one of duty rather than one of glorious free-choice that is rooted in gratitude. A deeper understanding of grace alters all of this.
Grace, is God’s unmerited favor extended to His children through the merits of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross of Calvary. A favor that is so all encompassing that it pardons all my sin, past, present, and future. A favor that transforms me from a slave to sin and makes me a child of God. A favor that stamps out the word “duty” and fills my heart with desire to please Him that is rooted in love. God loves me and accepts me, not because of anything that I can do but because of what His Son did on my behalf. I am helpless to add any merit to the work that Christ has done on my behalf through His death, burial, and resurrection. Nothing!
When I live with that in mind, my life is moved and motivated by gratitude not fear. When I am freed from the tyranny of trying to do more, trying to be more, I actually become more, more of what He has created me and redeemed me to be. And what was once duty: prayer, study, going to church, caring for others, doing them because I had to, to garner His favor; these become the greatest sources of joy that I know and in them I find liberation to love Him and to love you more.