June 26, 2016

What’s in your closet . . . ?

My closet holds a couple of items that I’ve never worn. They fit. They look good on me. I have no reason except perhaps that the right occasion has not presented itself. In a practical sense, I might as well not have these articles of clothing.

My spiritual life, even my physical life, is by the grace of God. It fits too, and when living by grace, it makes me a far better person. But there are times that I act as if I don’t have “grace in my closet” for I leave it hanging there and instead wear the old garment of the old me, as if grace is not mine at all.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 5:21–6:1)

Jesus took my sin (that old garment) that I might wear His righteousness. To leave it in the closet is tantamount to having received grace in vain. How senseless is that?
Not only must I ask that question, I must consider it in light of what Chambers says. He declares that the grace I had yesterday, or even an hour ago, will not do for today, or for right now. Grace is that amazing overflow of God’s blessing, undeserved yet always available for His people.

First, grace is why I am saved. Romans 3:23–24 says, “ . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus . . . .”

This salvation is received by faith, yet grace offers it to all who believe . . .

“So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:5–6)

Because of grace, I’ve no reason to be proud of myself . . .

“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” (Romans 12:3)

Paul knew he was blessed, yet he did not leave grace hanging in his closet. He said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)

The grace of God is a beautiful robe, but it is also whatever it needs to be. I cannot say that this wonderful blessing is only for special occasions. It is also for ordinary occasions, for those days when no one sees me and I work alone.

Chambers says that too, but also points out that praying and asking God to help is not about preparation for work. Instead, I am to pray and ask for grace, drawing on God’s grace for every moment, for all situations, for struggles, and for those days when all goes well.

Paul talked about being “In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors,” and the grace of God made him a great leader. God’s grace is His divine work that makes me what He wants me to be in every conceivable situation or condition I am in.

So why leave it or ignore it? Paul spoke of his many situations and included these words, “as having nothing yet possessing everything.” (2 Corinthians 6:10). The only other garments in his closet were filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and the same is true for me. However, to wear grace, I must admit to and willingly confess that I have nothing. I am poor and needy, and must rely totally on what God does for me.

Chambers calls it “poverty triumphant.” I call it chucking my pride and being overjoyed that in Christ I do not have to wear rags.

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