Detecting Grace Deficiencies
July 20, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
I have asked the men of Oak Hills to read a book with me this summer, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m drawn to this book because I want to see the grace of God lived out more and more in my life, in my thinking, in my feeling, in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my work. I hope you are able to pick up a copy and read with me. It will be the launching pad for discussion at our Men’s Breakfast on August 26. In the meantime, I want to use these Touchpoint articles to share some of my reflections as I work through Murray’s book. This is part two.
Last week we began by looking at what David Murray calls "grace deficiencies." These are areas in our lives where grace is not making a difference, even though we may have great knowledge of God's grace. Before Murray dives into the ways we can cultivate the transforming power of grace into our lives, he spends time helping us detect and analyze grace deficiencies. The aim in this process is to prevent total burn out and to begin to make progress in a grace-paced life.
So how do we detect grace deficiencies?
The Apostle Paul speaks about how all of creation has been "subjected to futility" because of sin; or we can say the futility is a result of grace deficiencies (Rom. 8:20). This futility rears its ugly head in all areas of our lives: physical, mental, emotional, relational, vocational, moral, and spiritual. Murray touches on these various areas, explaining how a deficiency in grace can be manifest in each.
Just like Paul in Romans 8, Murray highlights how God is in the futility that we are subject to. God works all things for good. Murray says, "With his hand on the thermostat and his eye on the timer, he knows exactly how hot the furnace needs to be and low long to leave us in it to make our gold purer and brighter" (p. 35).
The futilities are not our greatest "pain" or need, though. Our problem, however, is that we treat the futilities as our greatest need. Futility permeates our lives because of grace deficiency. The futility is not our greatest problem; the lack of grace is our greatest problem. Another way of saying this is, "At the root of many of the issues we [face] is a wrong view of God" (p. 39).
This is where Murray is helpful in analyzing the various futilities to which we are subject to understand their root cause. He uncovers that it's not so much a mental, factual view of God that is off, but how we practically live in light of such knowledge. How we respond to our life situations and also our lifestyle choices often reveal we don't live in accordance to what we believe about God. Murray has a lot of helpful indicators to detect and analyze where we live deficient of grace.
Grace deficiency is not a 21st century novelty. The Old Testament prophet Hosea confronted the Israelite's futilities. The role of the prophet was to help the people detect and analyze their deficiencies. God speaks of this in a more vivid manner in Hosea 6:5, "Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light." To be "hewn" and "slain" by God's words was to have your deficiency exposed. It's the only way forward to be filled with God's grace.
The New Testament also speaks about being hewn and slain by God's word. That's the imagery of Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." We often think of this verse affirming the positive encouragement of Scripture in our life, but the context emphasizes the "slaying" aspect of Scripture. The Bible is a sword to slay us, to expose our grace deficiencies.
We need such exposure. The grace of God will not take root and transform all areas of our lives without such exposure. The grace-paced life starts with exposing, confronting, and repenting of grace-less ways and habits. Scripture is the tool for such "hewing" and "slaying."
How about you? In what ways are you suffering from grace deficiency in your life? Allow Scripture to be like a mirror (James 1:23-25) and sword (Heb. 4:12-13) to reveal and "slay" those deficiencies. And then God can begin to work his grace in new areas of your life.