I like living by grace. Living by grace frees me from living by legalism. I can obey the rules because I want to, not because I have to. I can pursue my Jehovah God with reckless abandon because I love Him, not because I am required to pursue Him. I can raise my hands in celebration of His love and fall on my knees in worship of His sovereignty. I can reach out and be His hands or walk and be His feet without worrying about becoming dirty because I am doing it for Him, not for me. Grace allows me to be free to worship, love and serve without worrying about what others think of me, or furthermore, what I think of myself. Grace also allows me to mess up and fall flat on my face, over and over again, because Grace never fails me. God's grace always welcomes me back to start anew.
Looking back, I was a great Pharisee. In Jesus' day, I would have been at the temple any time women were allowed. I would have scrubbed toilets, washed goblets, swept the floor or polished brass in order to show how much I loved God. I would have worn my head covering with pride because I was following the rules. I would have walked meekly (well... maybe not...) because God made me a woman, hence a little lower than man. I would have kept silent in the church (hmmm....) because women were to be silent. While I was doing all of these wonderful things, I would have also been looking down my nose at those who weren't. I'm sure I would have been quick to offer gossip (oh.. I mean advice) at the well morning and night while I gathered my family's water. Others, I am sure, would have been as impressed with me as I was of myself.
Yep, impressed with myself, that's me. I was never called a "Pharisee" because a few thousand years later, we don't use that term anymore. Instead, I was called a "godly woman". Some may even use the term "righteous" or "upright". Uptight may have been a better description! I was godly--only serving the wrong god! I did all the "right" things so that people would look at me and be impressed with me. I wanted others to see me as being "righteous" just as Jesus was righteous. Oh! OUCH!! Yep...I bought the very same lie that Satan, in the form of the serpent, gave Eve... "you can be like God".
However, I serve a God who is GRACIOUS! Grace is underserved merit or favor. Undeserved meaning I don't have to earn it. I don't have to be perfect or self-righteous or upright to gain God's favor. He gave it to me. Even when I was wallowing in my pit of prideful sin, He gave me grace. He continues to give me grace. Though my self-righteousness is as filthy rags to Him, His grace clothes me in His righteousness.
Here's the catch...as soon as I try to do it, it's not grace. As soon as I think I can handle it, it's pride. As soon as I try to fix it, it's self-righteousness. He promises me that His grace is made perfect in my weakness. So, by giving up my pride, my self-righteousness, my Pharisee attitudes, I accept His gift of grace in my life. Then, and only then, can I extend grace to others.
I love grace! It is because of grace that I am a recovering Pharisee....