Do you tend to believe that what you do defines who you are? When you fail to accomplish a goal, do you tend to feel that you are a failure? When you do something bad, does it make you feel that you are a bad person? Many people today have fallen for the concept that we are what we do. If it were written out as an equation, it would look like this:
Who I Am = What I Do
Based on that thinking, who you are is inseparable from what you do and think and believe. Your entire identity is wrapped up in your performance.
Grace is love without conditions. Grace accepts a person on the basis of being, rather than doing. You can't earn grace; it is unmerited favor. Grace looks beyond what a person does, sees what that person is, and loves what it sees. Grace accepts, forgives, and restores. And this kind of grace is personified and modeled perfectly by a particular person. If grace had a name, it would be Jesus.
Scripture tells us that "The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14 NIV). Jesus spoke the truth and laid out all the laws and rules that we are to obey. But what shocked people who failed to measure up to those laws and rules was His grace-filled love. He looked beyond their behavior and saw them for who they really were – lost people who needed a friend and a Savior. He placed the rules within the loving context of grace. We all need to experience that kind of Jesus every day. As unworthy as we may be, when with grateful hearts we receive His grace, it dispels the shame in our lives. That's what Jesus does – He loves, extends grace, forgives sin because of His sacrificial death, and dispels shame.
It is critical to note, however, that while Jesus' grace-filled love accepts you without any condition, He still cannot accept your sin. Your sin, and everyone else's, is an enormous problem for Him. He can't overlook it; He must obliterate it, blot it out, and cancel any record of the charges against us. For justice to be served, someone must pay. Forgiveness comes at a high cost, and Jesus paid the high cost with His very life.
"When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners" (Romans 5:6 NLT). "God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:13-14 NLT). God says, "I – yes, I alone – will blot out your sins for my sake and will never think of them again" (Isaiah 43:25 NLT).
God accepts us without condition because of who we are – His children, created in His image. Sin has made us His lost children, yet He can forgive us because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus' grace-filled love accepts us for who we are and forgives us because of His atoning sacrifice. The apostle Paul tells us to pass on this gift of grace-filled love when he says to "accept each other just as Christ has accepted you" (Romans 15:7 NLT). He goes on to say, "Let your conversation be always full of grace" (Colossians 4:6 NIV).
Josh McDowell appears this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Adapted from Set Free To Choose Right by Josh McDowell. Copyright ©2018 by Josh McDowell Ministry. Published by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.