Saved by grace? Act like it!

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There’s a saying in Texas: “All hat, no cattle.”  It’s a shorthand way to describe a person who is all talk, pretentious, who lacks substance. A guy might drive a King Ranch™ Ford pickup, wear Tony Lama™ boots and a Stetson hat;  he might even own a horse-  but all that does not make him a rancher.  A common human temptation is to pretend to be someone we are not because we want to ‘fit in’ so desperately.  Sometimes this is harmless, but when a person confuses fantasy with reality too long, there are serious consequences. In the long run, being phony destroys the very relationships that person is trying so hard to gain.  Authenticity lays a foundation for a deep, lasting relationship.

Peter, writing to us, spoke of the amazing gift of God’s grace. We are given ‘new birth’ and an inheritance of a Heavenly home. All of this was no spur of the moment decision by God. He planned from ages past, told the prophets about it, and then sent Jesus to reveal our salvation.  “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16, NIV)

Since you are saved by grace,” Peter says, act like it!”  Where we read, “prepare your mind for action,” in the original text there is a much more colorful and compelling metaphor.  In some older translations the idiom was translated literally – “Gird up the loins of your mind.”  In order to get ready to work, men gathered their long robes at the waist and secured them with a belt so they could move freely.  There are choices we must make as a Christian that involve real, sustained effort; more than Sunday singing and church pew warming.

Take control of your passions,” Peter says.  Are you ruled by impulses, pulled this way and that by appetites for food, sex, pleasure, ease?  Are you temperamental, quick to quit, unwilling to take on service that has no glamour or immediate reward?  Grow up in Christ.

Look forward to the eternal promise.”  One of the marks of maturity is appreciation of delayed gratification, the grasp that what I do today can pay rich dividends farther down the road. Christians who are living maturely in Christ need to understand this, to live in faith.  Sometimes doing what is right is costly in the present. Who enjoys saying “no” to themselves?  We will do it more readily IF we have our hope resting on God’s promise, not just our desires.

“Don’t be stupidly sinful.”  There is a time when we are forgiven the things we do ‘in ignorance.’ We simply do not know any better, but the Word and Spirit bring correction and instruction. The conviction of the Spirit speaks to us and says, “Stop it.”  Or, “Forgive him.” Or, “Give generously.” Or, “Love that person beyond your words.” Will we respond maturely and with the help of God, the Holy Spirit, become mature?

Grow to be more like Me,”  the Father directs. “Be holy!”

Let me clear up one misconception.  This is a work in progress for each one of us. We will have bad days when we fall flat on our face. Fatigue, frustration, and plain old foolishness will trip us up from time to time, but there is grace to recover. God does not practice ‘three strikes and you’re out.’  He works patiently, persistently, to bring us to beautiful maturity.  So, let’s get on with it.  Since you’re saved by grace, act like it.

The word from the Word comes from Paul, who also reminds us to be authentic Christians, who grow in grace. “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2, NLT)

_________________

No Longer Slaves

(listen and worship)

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

From my Mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into Your family\
Your blood flows through my veins

You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

Brian Johnson | Joel Case | Jonathan David Helser © 2014 Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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