Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: God's Grace

Freedom Under Grace

A devotional by Sharon Musgrove

“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” –Romans 6:14 (ESV)

Have you ever found yourself in a pickle where you said you’d do something and then either struggled to follow through or realized you couldn’t do what you said?

If you're anything like me, you probably speak some pretty negative things over yourself and put a lot of energy into worrying over disappointing others.

Occasionally, I know at the onset that I’m getting in over my head, and I kick myself over the promise. Other times, I am taken by surprise at the inability to follow through. Either way, grace seems a long way off and my faults appear to have complete dominion.

There was a time I entered into a written contract with someone I was close too. This contract required the other party to perform specific actions to receive my financial deposits to a third party account. I was completely satisfied with the agreement until it became obvious that my friend was not and could not keep up his end of the contract. Because of the third party involvement, I had begun making payments. I felt frustration and disappointment that my friend was not being forthcoming and honest with me about his lack of action.

As time passed, my feelings morphed into resentment and anger. Eventually, I chose to address my friend, acknowledging my disappointment that the contract was broken, but disclosing that our relationship was my priority. It was an uncomfortable conversation but thankfully, we parted with our love for each other intact.

I thought about my relationship with God in this exchange, primarily, because God has prioritized our relationship. The Bible says a lot about how to live under a contract. Both the Old Testament and New Testaments are consistent in telling us to keep our promises. I tried to equate my contract experience with the grace and forgiveness of God, but the analogy didn’t fit. Grace is not a contract. God is not looking to me to fulfill my end of a contract so that He will payout in freedom. His intent is much greater than a common exchange.

God has established a covenant with his children, not a contract. A covenant differs from a contract by stating a one-sided guarantee or promise rather than a legally binding, two-sided, mutually beneficial agreement. God is completely aware that I am incapable of living rightly, therefore He initiated a covenant. God has guaranteed love. He has made good on this promise by showing me I am how valuable I am. He provided the way I can maintain a relationship with Him despite human fragilities and my tendency to offend Him. Through Jesus Christ, He paid my debt, and if that’s not enough, He added a Holy Spirit deposit on my future! Wow!

The same God who has achieved all this does not tire of teaching generation after generation. He repeats Himself to a woman like me! He uses these everyday experiences and my desire to “get it” as my classroom for scripture like Romans 6:14. With God, I am not under a contract or law, I am under a covenant with a guarantee of grace! Therefore, my inability to follow through on what I said I would do does not hold any clout over me. There is no room for shaming self-talk! I'm free and forgiven!

Grateful does not seem adequate a word to apply to a newfound understanding of freedom under grace, but oh how grateful I am! I'm grateful that the relationship, with my friend who was unable to fulfill the contract, was preserved. I’m even grateful for the experience of the broken contract. It's a lesson that motivates my desire to offer more grace!

How about you?

Author Bio:
Sharon Musgrove is a self-proclaimed sociologist. The opportunities opened to her, over the years, have led her on a fascinating journey observing human behavior. 

She has a diverse background in business, fitness and health industries. This background led her to a unique position writing curriculum and teaching for two private, Christ-based, residential recovery programs. Both recovery programs served women primarily from the homeless community.

Sharon has traveled multiple times to Kenya, serving on medical teams and teaching in the rural Maasai communities. She's been privileged to participate in Leadership camps for maturing young women. These annual camps have a mission of encouraging and empowering the impoverished, underprivileged, and often abused young Maasai girls.

Easily identifying personally with the brokenness of the women she's served, Sharon now sees all people as needing more encouragement regardless of cultural or socioeconomic status. Within these ministries, Sharon has witnessed the transformative power of loving words spoken to the broken-hearted. Sharing God’s love and witnessing its transformative power has become her passion.

In her leisure time, Sharon enjoys her garden, health food, travel and a good story. She and her husband, Jeff, make their home in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. They have two grown children. Currently, Sharon is writing her first Christian historical fiction novel utilizing her study, experience, and understanding of self-destructive behaviors.

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