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Undividing Grace and Glory

“Grace and glory differ very little; the one is the seed, the other is the flower; grace is glory militant, glory is grace triumphant.”
—Thomas Brooks

Early in my ministry career, I often asked God to use my life glorify Himself in my life. I prayed that He would increase His renown through my teaching and shepherding with His Church. My desire was pure – I really did want this for His renown. But I was walking in the lie of my achievement for His glory. I thought – “God use my teaching today,” or, “Bless my work for You,” or even, “Father, I give this time (teaching, worshipping, serving, etc.) to you.” Can you relate?

Of course, it’s God’s plan that we be used for His glory, but I mistook is glory as the result of my effort, I mistook my efforts as a gift to Him, and I thought I was to give Him my life so that my time, resources, and skill would be for His renown.

Then as God gave me revelation of the Truth of the New Covenant – as He has done and is doing for many of you – I saw something powerfully different in Scripture:

“In love, He predestined us to adoption as
sons through Jesus Christ to Himself,

according to the kind intention of His will,
to the praise of the glory of His grace…”

– (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Here’s the Truth God has been continually revealing to me from this verse for more than a decade:

God will never be glorified by our behavior for Him,
only by His grace to us.

Even as those who know Christ as our Life, who’ve His finished work on the cross, and who we are co-crucified and resurrected and with Jesus; it’s easy to see God’s grace as our means of living a righteous life, our empowerment to do great things for Him, and our venue for bringing about God’s renown. However, His righteousness is already ours, His will in our lives is His alone to bring about, and His renown is accomplished by our proclamation of what He’s done not what we do because of Him.

In other words, God’s grace is not the means for us to glorify Him; God’s grace is His glory fully realized within us.

So His grace doesn’t empower a life that brings His renown as much as His grace is all that is necessary for His renown. Our lives reveal the glory of God as we by faith choose to live as conspicuous recipients of the grace already ours in Christ. I’m learning that God hasn’t given His grace so I’ll live for His glory. He’s given such grace as a demonstration of who He is – which is His glory.

Consider three opportunities we have to shift from exercising grace for His glory to becoming conspicuous recipients of His grace, which IS His glory:

  1. When we find ourselves asking God to use us, what if we instead began pursuing what He has for us in each opportunity – that we would receive whatever revelation of Himself He has in a circumstance?
  2. When we are interceding for friends or family we hope will know freedom, rest, healing, or anything else by grace, what if we confessed that He wants so much more for them than we do, and asked that He’d reaveal in us His heart for them?
  3. When we are wanting to see change in our circumstances or others’, what if we chose to embrace His sovereignty in allowing the circumstance for our relationship – that His grace in the circumstance might prove greater than His grace to change it?

Ultimately, every circumstance will be used so that we – like Paul – might know Him more, and by knowing Him more, we might praise the glory of His inescapable grace.

As each day unfolds a new opportunity to be a conspicuous recipient of what He has for us, as He reveals more of His Life to all who witness it in us, and as we point to His kindness to us more than attempting to live that out toward others, our radical availability in light of His ridiculous grace will be the perfect testimony to the renown of Christ who is our Life…

…to the praise of the glory of His grace.