The Grace and Mercy of God

Editor: In our Theology Proper: The Antidote to Insatiable Desire we are seeking to understand how knowing God is indispensable to make, mature, and multiply disciples. We want to explicitly connect the theology of the church to its mission. So far in our series:

Holy Moments

My eyes filled with tears as I watched her eagerly wait my response. My pride flared up the a cobra ready to strike. I didn’t have a response. I was short out of words. Wisdom had not yet ventured to this depth.

A few weeks before this incident, I sat with a girl I disciple as she wept over the merciful nature of God. The realization that she had been Jonah this past year, running as far away from obedience as she could, washed over her. I prayed with her as she confessed her broken heart of disobedience and neglect. In a moment birthed out of sinfulness, I looked at her and saw such grace. It was a holy moment, as I witnessed the gospel more alive than I have ever seen it.

The reality, though, was the tears in my eyes revealed my own heart. What she didn’t know was that her words penetrated the defenses I had built before the Lord. I rejected his whispering voice and continued my pattern of self- sufficiency. This girl who I was trusted to pour into was acting as a conduit of conviction and grace for me. Isn’t that the nature of discipleship? As we pour into others, they often pour back into us—even if they don’t knowingly do so. In an act of unknowing honesty, I took in this beautiful moment and articulated what only the Holy Spirit could. I divulged wisdom on repentance and humility, while in secret the Spirit applied it to my own heart.

I believe the Holy Spirit acts on our behalf and I trust he spoke what she needed to hear. However, I could have shared this holy moment with her, humbly approaching the throne of grace together, rather than only ushering her there as she needed. It’s natural to discern what should be shared in discipleship, but I think there’s a choice we get to make too. This choice asks if we will lay down our defenses to share from a place of wisdom and repentance.

“Now it’s time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus.”— Acts 3:19 (MSG)

The need for humility in discipleship

Some of the most memorable times in my life are when people I respect cry out for God. These times remind me how powerful and almighty he truly is. It’s a grace of discipleship that we don’t get everyday. It is a refreshing representation that we all need Jesus, and that his holiness beckons repentance from even the most respectable person. There is no level or limit to the insurmountable grace that God gives. The sad thing is that we often stifle it for a selfish façade of having everything together. That is what I did. I chose to conceal my face from God and suppress my need for grace in this moment. In response to this girl, I would return with a disposition of humility. My heart would reconcile to hers as I shared with her my own prideful disobedience. Her humility declared the gospel as worthy, but I’m not sure my response rendered the same. Instead, I would repeat those words that the Lord prompted me to share, but I’d conclude by saying with a smile, “I need him too.”

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus”— Philippians 2:3-4

The fruit of gospel freedom

“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”— Matthew 3:8

God is holy, so when we regard him as such our lives are transformed. His eternal nature is higher than our limited understanding, which creates a genuine sense of awe and wonder. We can’t behold his glory completely, but he choses to share it with us anyway. This is humbling and leads us to the foot of the cross. It’s in this place that we are able to better understand our deficiency, our need for a Savior, and his grace filled sacrifice. This intimate exchange of grace is repentance. This act brings forth humility, gratitude, and most important, abundant life. It’s what I saw happen within in the girl I disciple and it’s what I choose to walk in from here on out. I want to make disciples with every intention to share the grace and mercy of God; not only from past experiences, but current battles as well.

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart, Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart; Dissolved by Thy goodness, I fall to the ground, And weep to the praise of the mercy I’’ve found.

Great Father of mercies, Thy goodness I own, And the covenant love of Thy crucified Son; All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine. All praise to the Spirit, Whose whisper divine Seals mercy, and pardon, and righteousness mine.

—John Stocker, “Thy Mercy, My God”

Chelsea Vaughn (@chelsea725has served a ministry she helped start in the DFW Metroplex since she graduated from college. She received her undergraduate degree at Dallas Baptist University in Communication Theory. She does freelance writing, editing, and speaking for various organizations and non-profits. She hopes to spend her life using her gift for communication to reach culture and communities with the love of Jesus.