Maybe I should explain the title of my blog. I’ve been a Christian for a long time, and it is fairly easy for me to understand that I am incapable of securing salvation for myself–I know I need Jesus to take care of that part. I know that someday when I die, I’ll stand before God with only Jesus’ perfect record and not my own imperfect one. But I have often thought that it is up to me to take care of all the stuff between now and then.
(A slightly theological side note here . . . ) The difference is between two terms, justification and sanctification. Justification is our legal standing with God–if our faith is in Christ, we have been declared righteous by God because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sin. Nothing can alter that legal standing–it is a one-time declaration, done for eternity. Sanctification is the process of our growing in Christ-likeness. We won’t ever be done while we’re on this earth, but we are to be growing in our relationship with Christ and becoming more like Him.
So I get that my justification is accomplished by God, by grace alone . . . but I forget that my sanctification is also accomplished by God, through the Holy Spirit, by grace alone. Not that I can just sit back and let God transform me into a perfect being, but it isn’t up to me to muster up all the strength I have and try really hard to be just like Jesus. The title of this blog is my reminder to myself that any good in me, any growth that occurs, any successes in parenting–they are all by the grace of God.
Why is so important to remind myself of this? Because otherwise, I would either become prideful or depressed. Prideful when things are going well, because I think it’s because I’m so smart, or so good or such a great mom. I was so prideful as a young adult, because in general, I was successful at what I did as a student and then in the workplace, and I thought it was all a result of my great efforts. Things are a little different now that I’m a mom–I often feel that I’m not doing the right things or not seeing the results I want in my kids, and I feel depressed about being a failure. Isn’t that always how it is when we compare ourselves to others or to the standards we have for ourselves? Pride or despair.
And most days, I’m definitely feeling one of those two. The only way for me to avoid it is to remember that my successes and failures of the day are an expression of God’s love for me. Successes given to me by Him to encourage me, failures to challenge and sanctify me. Because God isn’t concerned about my happiness, the ease of my life, or how I look in the eyes of others. It isn’t about me becoming the Supermom of Superchildren. His concern is for my sanctification by His grace, for His glory. And it might take enduring a thousand tantrums for God to teach me the fruits of the Spirit that are so lacking in my life right now–joy, patience, gentleness, and self-control just to name a few! (See Galatians 5.)
I am like the Galatians from biblical times, who had been saved by faith but were trying to live the Christian life by rule-following and human effort. Here’s what Paul wrote to them–I wish this truth could be more ingrained in my heart and my life than it is right now!
Galatians 2:20-21, 3:2-3: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousnesswere through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. 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 bythe flesh*?
*or in the NIV translation, “are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”Share
Hi! I have been keeping up with ya’ll on puppy dog tails for some time now–I love the stories and pictures, and, even there, the humorous honesty that resonates in your writing. And now this blog–thank you for being willing to pen what lives in my heart, even now. The struggle between pride and despair when I am too busy looking at me to remember the amazing, condescending, undeserved, overwhelming love of Christ. For me. A sinner. And yet His, by grace alone. Thanks Marissa–I’m excited to keep reading!
Hi Missy! It’s good to hear from you. Hope you and your family are doing well. I love your description of Christ’s love–awesome, true adjectives!