A reminder of grace, out of the mouths of babes....


...well, a twenty year old college junior. This is my daughter, Gina. She's currently working on a double-major, liberal studies and linguistics. She loves to read - well usually.

The other day she was visiting for dinner, as she is wont to do. While I cooked, she poked around in the refrigerator in search of a Diet Pepsi and made a statement she had no idea I'd still be thinking about two weeks later. Her words were to this effect:
"Nothing ruins a good book like having to read it for a class!"
In a breath she captured the human condition. Reading a good book is a good thing. Being required to read a book...well, shouldn't being required to do a good thing be a good thing? Not if you're human - a sinner by nature. The only thing that can rob us of the joy we find in our most loved activities, besides being forbidden to practice them, is being required to practice them. Our deep desire really is to be a law unto our own selves. Our natural inclination is to oppose all other authority. This is at the very heart of what it is to be a sinner.
"For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me..." Rom. 7:8b-11

"For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Rom. 8:7-8
And it is to this very heart that the gospel offers its great hope.
"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit...For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God..." Rom. 8: 1-4; 15-16.

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are not driven by slavish fear, but by the desire and delight that comes from love for our Father. Do you, brother or sister in Christ, ever find yourself motivated by guilt, or fear? I know I do. Do you ever find yourself doing good, not for the love of God and delight in what is good, but to make up for something you've done wrong? Have you ever seen your sincere repentance subtly becoming penance - an attempt to earn God's grace and forgiveness by afflicting yourself - trying to work up more sorrow so you can feel more forgiven? Have you ever compared yourself with others to gauge where your are in your Christian walk? These are all symptoms of slavery, not the freedom that comes from the Spirit of God, from knowing with certainty that you are accepted in the Beloved and loved by God your Father.
"Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?..." Gal. 3:2-3

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Gal. 5:1
When the joy disappears from a joyous task, we need a return to grace - a return to the cross, where Christ bore the condemnation for our sin. He bore all the guilt, for all our sin. Nothing we can do can add to what He's already done. We have been set free.

Thanks to Gina for the reminder.

Comments

David Porter said…
Laurie,

Most perceptive. You are the consummate thinker.
Andy C said…
This is so true and I struggle with the same issue. Gina is right about how it makes us feel, you are right in how we need to approach it when it happens.

Thank you to two wise women! Words I need to heed and follow myself.
LiNdSeY said…
WoW! That was convicting, especially since those exact words have come out of my mouth!
rainydaytoys said…
I agree with what you both said but just had to say what a beautiful picture of Gina.
The Scotts said…
Laurie, your daughter is just beautiful!!! How old is she again? And I really enjoyed and was convicted by your post on freedom!! You sure have a way with words and it's great to be able to read your thoughts - hugs -
Gina said…
I guess I do remember saying that. Who would have thought it would be so smart! Nice picture choice... that's a pretty old pic! I guess not that old.
Laurie M. said…
Deb,
I think she was 19 when that picture was taken. I think it's one from her trip to Ireland.
jeri said…
Excellent thoughts, Laurie. You do know how to set 'em down.
jeri said…
And I'm not very good at math--you are three hours behind us, not ahead (as I was thinking.) :)

I need to go to sleep...
Gina said…
not my trip to Ireland. Justin took that of me when we were at that weird wild animal place in durham, you know what i'm talking about? I was actually like 18
ke4juh said…
Laurie,
What a beautiful kid...

It's true that to be human means to hate to be told what to do even if it's something that you love. Some of the best musicians I've ever known have refused to go pro for that very reason. To let go of that rebellion means freedom - thanks for the insight.

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