The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:6-8

I’m convinced that people who cling to legalism are afraid. Afraid of grace. Afraid that if they dip their toes in God’s amazing gift, that they will suddenly become irreparably sinful. Or they think that grace is somehow a license to do whatever they want.

Grace is the only thing that really makes me want to change.

I used to think that way. But I have found that, as one who cherishes grace and holiness alike, accepting that I can’t make it on my own merit draws me to God instead of pulling me away from him. As a song that I love states, grace is the only thing that really makes me want to change.

Another thing I love about grace is that when I accept the fact that I am not perfect, and that I can’t do it on my own, there is room for forgiveness. There is a space for repentance free and abundant, for seeing our faults and the faults of others through the eyes of grace.

When I was in my early twenties, I witnessed something that had a profound effect on me. I was in a little country church, removed from the tradition I was raised in. A dear sister with a teenage daughter stood up in front of the congregation, and declared, “my daughter is pregnant! She’s pregnant!”

It was a shocking and disturbing scene, to be honest, with most of the people going to pray with the dear sister, and others going to comfort the distraught daughter in the Sunday School room. But do you know what happened after that declaration was made and dealt with? Grace. Forgiveness.

The very next Sunday, the daughter and her boyfriend were both in church. The baby was taken to church from the beginning. Even though I have no contact with the family or church anymore, I would love to think that that family is still a vital part of the church to this day. Why? Because in honest confession, grace rules instead of shame. Shame would have hidden that sin, afraid to confess and deal with it. Afraid of what people would think, in the struggle to put on a brave face and “make it to heaven.” Grace says I can’t make it to heaven. I must confess and let Jesus do it for me.

I’ve never been that tearful teenage daughter in front of the church, but I have sinned. I have messed up badly in a way that could’ve cost me my very life. But I am not cast away or shut out because of these sins – no, I have been forgiven, accepted, and given strength to face my battles and not let them win. As I declare the truth about who I am in Christ and who he is in me, shame melts away, and I am able to find grace for life, grace enough to merit heaven. **Because he is the one who makes the way. **

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