On Grace: In Contempt

I feel the need to continue exploring the topic of grace. For those reading along, this has been a process that began some months ago and was discussed in my “Fresh Refreshing” entry. Please feel free to read through if you think you are missing pieces to the puzzle, though I intend each entry to stand alone to a certain extent.

As I’ve moved through the journey, I’ve been introduced to new things. A friend shared her most personal story with me through her autobiography. As touching as that was for me to read, it touched on ever so much more. Her very difficult story had elements of my own woven through the fabric. I guess I could identify with a main theme: contempt.

By now you’re asking “What is the connection between grace and contempt? That just doesn’t make sense!” (Don’t change your url site just yet.) This entry isn’t really focused on God’s emotions or actions, but we do know our Father feels contempt. God is specific about the things He hates. He hates idolatry (Deuteronomy 12:31). He hates wickedness and violence (Psalm 11:5). There is even a list offered in Proverbs 6 detailing what the Lord hates:

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Though the Lord does have contempt for these things, there is one non-option: He never hates His children! Old Testament or New, our heavenly Father offers the deepest and most sincere love for those who come to Him, desire to humble themselves before their holy God, and establish relationship with Him on his gracious terms! Best, worst, or ugliest moments, God’s love for His kids is unchanged! Even King David (who had best, worst, and ugliest moments for sure) was known as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Let’s agree that the Bible speaks to God’s discipline, but that does not equate to contempt for His people (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6, 10).

The contempt I want to focus on can be found in our response to Him. I thought from the moment I committed my life to Christ that I loved Him–always. I’m beginning to look more closely at things I haven’t thought about too frequently. It was brought to my attention some time ago by a wonderful woman who led our worship team. She mentioned I might be in contempt then, but I’m only seeing it more clearly now. For me, this is based in self-worth.

Some say the goal of self-worth is simply feeling good about ourselves. A more biblical goal goes far beyond that limited perspective. We want an accurate view of ourselves, God, and others, based on the truth of God’s Word…An accurate, biblical self-concept contains both strength and humility, both sorrow over sin and joy about forgiveness, a deep sense of our need for God’s grace, and a deep sense of the reality of Gods’s grace. (The Search for Significance Workbook, p. 14-15)

I just want to park on the last part of that quote: “a deep sense of our need for God’s grace.” Knowing the need for God’s grace is rooted in a sound biblical perspective on the identity and character of God and our own identity and character. Oddly enough, this isn’t framed from what we think is true, but from the real truth in Scripture. The Bible is clear about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, hence, the need for God’s grace. Identifying our rogue thoughts, words, and actions is a key part of finding our desperate need for His grace.

The “deep sense of the reality of God’s grace” seems more elusive. There are times when I can read passages from Scripture, study them, and even memorize them, but I can’t get the truth of what I’ve read to travel from my head to my heart. The grace I’ve received is something I know to be true cognitively, but there is a missing piece. I sense this might be a root of a contempt problem. I believe starting with the knowledge of grace is proper, but this second part can’t be ignored, in my opinion.

In a scenario where I’ve done something I know is wrong, I know the truth of 1 John 1:9. The crux of the matter is not whether I know that confession leads to forgiveness. I have identified my need for God’s grace, and I can point to the very passage that tells me I may have it. My heavenly Father has given me instruction so that I can have a restored relationship. When my understanding of the reality of God’s grace is warped, all kinds of things happen, none good.

As a response to the grace I receive, I offer self-degrading statements (What an idiot I am!), untrue statements about the character of God (He loves me when I do right, but when I do wrong, He doesn’t.), or maybe I can’t even put the whole thing in perspective (I can’t do anything right!). The truth of God’s Word says I am clean when I confess to Him, but I utter statements that contradict the truth of Scripture and degrade who I am.

Contradicting Scripture is a problem. I, as a follower of Christ, can’t be doing that. Degrading who I am says a lot about how I frame God’s character, doesn’t it? God’s truth, love, and power is (thankfully) never defined by what I think; it’s defined by who He says He is! And that’s framed in the truth of the Bible.

So, there are questions that ramble around in my mind at the moment. Maybe we could try them on for size.

Am I clear on my need for God’s grace?

Is the reality of God’s grace penetrating deeply into my heart, or do I need to pursue it?

I am forgiven and “cleansed from all unrighteousness” when I confess (1 John 1:9). Do I believe that? Do my thoughts, words, and actions reflect that I believe that?

Are my thoughts, words, and actions in keeping with what my heavenly Father says is true about me?

Am I in contempt?

Some days I admit I can’t see the reality of His grace. Those are the days I seem to be in contempt regularly. Guilty as charged. Those are the days I need refreshing in this area, and it would be a very good idea to think on the amazing grace at the cross and the truth of Scripture. The real work, though, will be done by the power of the Holy Spirit (a topic for another entry).


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