Having experienced the grace and mercy of God, you in turn want to obey God and live within biblical instruction for you trust that God’s plan is good. Hidden in that statement is a tension between grace and obedience. It is by grace you were saved, now go and obey. It sounds simple but in the messiness of life it can get complicated.
Because You’re Mine, I Walk the Line
As a senior leader, you find yourself walking the tightrope of grace and obedience more often than you would have expected. You know—intellectually and theologically, at least—that reliance on the grace of God and taking action steps in obedience are not opposites. In fact, they stand together, with loving obedience being the natural outflow of God’s grace.
Technically, Johnny Cash was talking to his wife and speaking of his motivation for sobriety when he wrote, “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.” But it illustrates grace and obedience well. The “because” is key. Our experience with grace is life changing and obedience becomes our love song.
But in life it’s a delicate balance. Too much grace might lead to taking God for granted and result in unbiblical behavior. Calls to radical obedience can sideline the gospel of grace and result in a system of righteousness through works. Either one of those outcomes is, indeed, damaging to the Christian faith.
6 Ways to Think through Grace and Obedience
Here are some practical things you can do as you work to live and lead others in lives of grace and obedience:
You are here because you experienced the grace of God. Reflect on those moments of grace that have been profound in your life. How did it make you feel? What did you do (or want to do) in response?
2. Walk the line
Walking the line is active—it requires your attention. A missed step could result in a fall. So you study and practice and challenge your understanding of grace and obedience. As real life issues come up ask yourself, “Where does grace end?” and “Where does obedience begin?” Deeply philosophical questions, I know, but spending time pondering them and looking for answers in scripture keeps us walking the line.
3. Examine and extend grace
Have you ever watched someone make one small right choice and known it was BIG only to have someone point out it is not enough? Jesus was serious about judging others (Matthew 7: 1-5). After all, the Holy Spirit is at work in them and watching with excitement for that moment when grace changes everything for them. Yes, there are times to speak up but it shouldn’t be the first step. The first step when you feel uncomfortable with the disobedience of others must be to examine grace at work in your own life and look for opportunities to extend that life changing grace to others.
4. Deepen your understanding of God
Even if you have been a Christian your whole life and have higher degrees in theology, there is still more to learn about God. A great way to challenge your relationship with grace and obedience is to deepen your understanding of God. Which qualities of God’s character do you want to learn more about? Study the scriptures and ask God to show you that quality at work in you and those around you. How do grace and obedience come into play and why?
5. Keep the mystery alive
God is always at work in you and around you. Even when you don’t feel it, he is there. Mysteries are difficult to understand and they often come during life’s extremes. Grace is truly a mystery of God’s love. Receiving and extending grace can be equally miraculous. Ask God for a peek behind the curtain to see his grace at work in your and through you.
6. Support both grace and obedience
Both grace and obedience hold challenges and uncomfortable aspects. Look for opportunities to support people in moments of grace. To celebrate or weep with them as God weaves grace into their life. Likewise, be there to come alongside others as they work toward obedience. Celebrate small and large victories.
Maybe you find yourself falling on the grace or obedience side. Invite your accountability partner to walk with you as you discover how to apply them with balance.
Every person is different and we all reflect God in different ways. So why is our typical approach to discipleship the same across the board? The Discipleship Difference lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship that is individualized to meet each person wherever they are.
Guide for Discipling covers the 8 areas that Jesus helped his own disciples to grow. The chapter on Experiencing God has a study on grace and obedience. There is room to choose the area that you feel God is asking you to lean into and offers you guidance in to help you determine your next steps toward Jesus. To learn more about the 8 areas of discipleship download the free Map of Discipleship.
Help others through Christian Coaching
Coaching is an effective tool for helping others grow in Christ. By learning the basics you can come alongside people and help them identify key areas for growth, implement spiritual practices, discover their gifts and talents, and lean into the calling God has on their life. Christian Coaching Tools has 2 ways you can quickly learn the fundamentals
- Christian Coaching Essentials– this brand new book includes bonus materials to help you put what you learn into practice!
- The Christian Coaching Essentials Cohort- if you learn best an interactive learning environment this is for you. Learn more at christiancoachingtools.com. Last chance to join the Spring Cohort as it starts April 20th!