Today’s Daily Light
Con’t..Part 2/final from article by David Mathis
Put Yourself In the Path of God’s Grace
Train Yourself for Godliness
Yes, it is grace, and yes, we expend effort. And so Paul says to his protégé, “Train yourself for godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Discipline yourself for growth. Take regular action to get more of God in your mind and your heart, and echo him in your life — this is “godliness.” It’s a gift, and we receive it as we become it.
Paul’s own reliance on God for ongoing grace is a powerful testimony to this means-of-grace dynamic. He says in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “by the grace of God I am what I am . . . . I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” God’s grace didn’t make Paul passive, but supplied the energy for discipline, and every ounce of energy expended was all of grace.
Or Romans 15:18, “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Jesus’s grace didn’t mean accomplishing this purpose despite Paul, or apart from him, but through him. Where does Paul get the power to labor and expend such spiritual effort? “I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).
How to Receive the Gift of Effort
This dynamic is true not because Paul is an apostle, but because he is a Christian. So, he says to every believer, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” because of this great promise: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13). And so, the author of Hebrews closes his magisterial epistle with a prayer for God’s “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:20–21).
The way to receive the gift of God’s empowering our actions is to do the actions. If he gives the gift of effort, we receive that gift by expending the effort. When he gives the grace of growing in holiness, we don’t receive that gift apart from becoming more holy. When he gives us the desire to get more of him in his word, or in prayer, or among his people, we don’t receive that gift without experiencing the desire and living the pursuits which flow from it.
Lay Yourself in the Way of Allurement
Zacchaeus may have been a wee little man, but he modeled this big reality by positioning himself along the path of grace. He couldn’t force Jesus’s hand, he couldn’t make grace flow, but he could put himself along the path where Grace was coming (Luke 19:1–10). The same was true of blind Bartimaeus (Luke 18:35–43). He couldn’t earn the restoration of his sight, but he could position himself along the route of grace where Jesus might give the gift as he passed that way.
“Typically, the grace that sends our roots deepest streams from ordinary and unspectacular paths.”
“Think of the Spiritual Disciplines,” says Don Whitney, “as ways we can place ourselves in the path of God’s grace and seek him as Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus placed themselves in Jesus’s path and sought him” (Spiritual Disciplines, 19). Or, as Jonathan Edwards puts it, we can “endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.”
God’s regular channels of grace are his word, his ear, and his people. So often, he showers his people with unexpected favor. But typically the grace that sends our roots deepest, truly grows us up in Christ, and produces lasting spiritual maturity, streams from the ordinary and unspectacular paths of fellowship, prayer, and Bible intake in its many forms.
While these simple “means of grace” may seem as unimpressive as everyday switches and faucets, through them God regularly stands ready to give his true light and the water of life.