How do we grasp the grace of God to move away from living for self (ungodliness) to being empowered to live for Christ?
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
The Christian deal is the best deal in the world – your sins are forgiven by God when you believe that Christ died for you, confess that you are a sinner, and you receive eternal life. There is no action, or labour on your part, and it is even offensive for some to think that they cannot earn their way into God’s family. So both the diligent the lazy, the rich, the poor, the selfish and the generous get into God’s family for free – so what is the catch?
As we surrender our lives to Christ, in deep appreciation, we acknowledge him as our new Lord and master, instead of me being the captain of my soul. And that is the catch – our whole lives up to this point have been focussed on living for ourselves, and gratifying every passing desire. But now we are in a battle against those selfish desires as we live for God, and without help from above, it is a battle we will always lose!
Progressing with the theme of sloth or laziness, what would this look like in the context of the passage we are looking at today? How do we fall into choosing ungodliness and worldly passions? The lazy option to me would be the option that aligns with the spirit of this age, without considering what God would want. The sloth option would involve staying at home to read the paper while the wife and kids go to church, not speaking up against unethical behaviour at work, even if it threatens your job. The easy option may also be simple spending money on another investment to secure your worldly retirement, rather than a kingdom cause to honour your eternal inheritance: Jesus.
The grace of God enables us to slay slothfulness in the present by saying no to the selfish choices that pull us away from living self-controlled God-honouring lives. We also look back to what Jesus has done for us on the cross to free us from our selfish bent; through this, we are finally empowered to persevere in eagerness to do good by looking ahead to the blessed hope of the future, the coming of Jesus Christ.
Head: Is there any part of you that believes enough self-discipline will enable you to escape the pull of ungodliness and live unselfishly for the glory of God?
Heart: Reflect on the sweet presence of Jesus changing your heart in the area of a particularly strong worldly passion that pulls you away from living for him.
Hands: Pick an area in your life that you know you have not completely trusted God with, and find one thing you could practically do to honour God in that area. i.e. finances, family, friends or work
Prayer: Lord, it is so easy to almost unwittingly go with the way of the world in our thinking about the good life, getting comfortable and living only for the here and now. Help me to gain a heavenly perspective and invest myself in worthy projects which make your name famous. Thank you Lord for the grace you give me to honour you in those areas of my life that I used to struggle with and are changed forever because of your amazing grace. Thank you Lord that you offer salvation to all people. In Jesus’ name and by the power of your Spirit. Amen
A song to listen to: Gracious Redeemer