In a culture that continually demands its rights, it is important to remember that there is not a right to grace. (That’s an oxymoron.) You can’t just grab some grace and have it your way, like a fast food burger. There is no streaming grace on demand.
Grace is commonly defined as “God undeserved favor.” However, rights are deserved and due you. Do you see the difference?
If you pay for your burger, then you have a right to have it. However, no matter what you do, you have no right to grace. It is always a free gift, unearned and undeserved.
Here’s a quote from Brother Lawrence, a 17th Century monk in Paris who wrote The Practice of The Presence of God: “We restrain the flow of God’s abundant grace . . . However, we mustn’t restrain it any longer. Let us go into our hearts, dear friend, breaking down the dike, making way for grace.”
So what is “the dike”? Pride. A sense of spiritual entitlement — the feeling that we have a right to grace.
One of the New Testament writers, James, said: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” If grace is an ocean, pride is the dike that keeps it out of our life and keeps us sinking in sin.
Grace is not earned, but it can only be freely received by the laying down our rights, our demands, our entitlements, our justifications, our self-righteousness — and humbly asking God for His mercy. In Jesus’ parable of the proud Pharisee and the publican, the publican was in the posture of grace when he prayed: “God have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Ancient Orthodox monks expanded that prayer into what has become know as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” Regularly praying that prayer can help destroy your dike and open you up “to the flow of God’s abundant grace” which Brother Lawrence says will flow “in a torrent that, having found an open channel, gushes out exuberantly.”
(How this blog post came to be:
I woke up this morning at 4:30 with the idea “there is no right to grace” running through my mind. As I thought about it, this blog fell into place and I realized that I needed to get up and write it down before I forgot it. As I was waiting for my computer to come on, which for some reason was extremely slow, I saw a book that I bought months ago at McKay Used Books in Nashville, but hadn’t read or flipped through it since I bought it — The Practice of The Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. So I picked it up and began to read it. To my astonishment, he began to talk about grace and I came across the words I quoted in this blog. I am continually amazed at how through out my life, God has put books directly in front of me that precisely speak to a need I have or a situation I am in, at the moment. I hope you were blessed by this blog. Thanks for reading it!)