My Problem with Grace

8:01.
That time is insignificant on most days.  It holds more significant meaning on the second day of a new job. Not just the second day of a new job, but the second day of a new job that starts at 8:00.  Not only does it start at 8:00, but the better part of the first afternoon was devoted to stressing the importance of being on time.  Always.  And I took that information, hit snooze, got caught behind a slow-moving semi, and walked in to the classroom to see everyone else seated and ready to go.  Some of my new colleagues had driven more than an hour to be there.  I had a 15 minute drive on a bad day.
8:01.

Rooted
This righteousness is given through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, ~Romans 3:22,23

And
No one wants to be the one with the bad mark, but that’s exactly what had happened.  With no excuses and no chance to change what had happened, I tried to focus on the content of our training.   I could not, at least not well.  That minute kept popping back into my mind.  I had heard about the process of discipline, and I had stepped right into it.
Then our truth moment, or at least mine, came up: we were shown how to record our working time in the system.  There was a quiet argument about whether or not I should record “8:00” since I was so close.  It’s only one minute, right?  But I was not there at 8:00; I was there one minute later.
I entered 8:01.
Our instructor came around to make sure that we had followed the process correctly.  She saw mine and quietly said, “Oh good, you have that in there.  I was going to mention it this morning but then we started right away.  It’s a very literal time stamp here.”
Very literal.  Much like when we fall short of the standard God has set.  There is no wiggle room.  There is no “so close” category.  There is no way I can earn what God offers to me in the gift of salvation.  Unfortunately, I often pretend as if I can.  I look at what I’ve done as well as what I haven’t, and I quietly argue that it’s close enough.

Reaching
The end result of my argument is that I arrive at cheap grace.  The blood of Jesus means little if I came “pretty close.”  The journey Christ took to leave heaven and live on earth is invaluable if we’re grading on a curve.  And the suffering that our Lord endured for my sake hurts me a little less if I almost didn’t need him to do that.
But I absolutely do need it.  I’m not close.  I’m not a minute late, I don’t even show up on the radar when it comes to meeting the holiness and righteousness of God.  How dare I discount the cost of what was done for me?

and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  ~ Romans 3:24

Indeed.  I was the one hung up on my minute, not my instructor.  She proceeded to teach me with excellence in spite of my shortcoming.  I do the same thing with grace.  I’m overly aware of a few shortcomings, and woefully unaware of the rest. But, rather than looking at the goodness around me, I can stay stuck on that minute late.  Our shortcoming is not a problem for God.  He solved that already.  Now if we would only move past the truth of verse 23 and into the truth of verse 24.
The second week of my job started with all of us receiving evaluations from our instructor.  I gave it a glance and noticed a section for absences and tardies.  On my evaluation, the instructor noted that I had zero absences and zero tardies.
Grace.
God loves you.  You do not need to prove your love by your perfection.  You will have shortcomings until the last breath.  But grace is available now – and always – for every moment your heart beats.  Be absolutely certain that God has no problem with grace.  Live with the knowledge and gratitude that lets others know you have been set free from your problem with grace.

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