A couple days ago I was listening to a financial advice radio call-in show where a caller asked the host if it was acceptable to take a job that required him to work on Sunday – so that he could get caught up on his debt – yet, knowing that he would not be able to attend Sunday church services. (The host normally gives great financial advice; much of which one could argue is in keeping with God’s Word.) The response from the host really got my attention. The host told the caller that “there was enough grace from the Lord” to allow him to take the job to get caught up on his debt. The host went on to state that he at times has to work on Sundays, and that there are churches that hold Saturday evening services; you just pick “your Sabbath day”; thus, justifying his own actions.
Hearing the response from the host, I was left with the following question, “How many times do we hide behind God’s grace to justify our actions?” In other words, for this particular situation, the host did not state to the caller, “pray about the matter and see where God leads you.” It very well could be that the Lord would have provided all of the man’s needs to pay off his debt, if he fully trusted in the Lord; and this would have been without sacrificing his Sunday church service attendance. (After all, the Lord did not get the man into his debt crisis; but the Lord can help us to get out of our situation if we seek His forgiveness, His guidance and His will.)
Looking at this from the broader perspective, how often do we “abuse the Lord’s grace” (or restated, “hide behind the Lord’s grace”) to justify what we want to do? We may start with a situation like, “I need to visit my loved one this Sunday. It will require me to miss Sunday church services, but I’m sure the Lord will understand.” (Whatever happened to visiting your loved one on Saturday?) Here’s another one, “My child has a sporting event this Sunday. I need to get them to the event and I know that we will miss Sunday church services, but I’m sure the Lord will understand.” (Whatever happened to standing up and stating that it is unacceptable to require my child to attend a sporting event on Sunday when there are six other days in the week to hold the sporting event?) Given a little more space, I could proffer up several other situations / scenarios, whereas, we could state that “there was enough grace from the Lord” to allow me to do what I wanted to; even if it doesn’t involve Sunday church services.
The apostle Paul provided the following statements concerning us trying to justify “abusing the Lord’s grace”.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
While it is true that the Lord’s grace will cover all of our sin (as a believer), it is also true that the Lord will chastise His child when he/she abuses His grace to justify their own desires / actions, especially when they are in defiance against His Word and His Ways.
Hebrews 12:5-6 states,
“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
The bottom line here is that we must not be found guilty of “abusing the Lord’s grace” to justify our actions.