Finishing the Race by Grace
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (Colossians 2:6).
The other day, while reading my Bible, I came across that sentence which made me stop and think.
I began to think back to the day when I first became a believer, when I first began running this race. I was a youngster -- only ten years old. Can you think back to the day when you first understood the invitation of your Heavenly Father? You heard the good news that a holy, righteous, all-knowing, and all-powerful God was passionately pursing a friendship with you. You comprehended that Jesus Christ took the filth of your sin to the cross where He was crucified. You knew you didn't deserve God's favor, and that no amount of minimum monthly payments of good works could ever repay his tremendous sacrifice on your behalf. Yet, you received his invitation. Like standing under a waterfall, the refreshing water of God's grace and forgiveness poured over you.
Perhaps the event described above happened recently or many years ago, but no matter when it occurred or how you perceived the event, everyone who begins their Christian life does it the same way: by grace through faith. We all know that this is how we enter race, but somewhere down the track, we may have picked up the idea that the race is now based on us trying our hardest to earn God's favor. For whatever reason, we stop living by grace through faith, and we migrate to a life that is lived by self-effort.
I used to be concerned that too much dependence on God's grace would become something of a permit allowing people to get away with sin too easily. I was afraid that others (note that I, in my pride, was never afraid that I would do this) would take advantage of God's grace. I figured that before they committed their immoral act, they would think, "I shouldn't do this, but I know God is gracious, and he will love me no matter what I do, so I'm going to do it anyway."
It wasn't until I fully understood how much I personally needed God's grace that grace became so profound to me. Now I know that a pure understanding of grace and a clear picture of how God sees me, motivates me to live like the person I truly am: a chosen saint.
While reading that verse in Colossians, I believe God was trying to say to me something like, "Hey, remember the day we first met? You were naive. You didn't understand all the ins and outs of theology like you think you do today. You simply accepted my grace with open arms...like a child. Keep accepting my grace like that everyday."
You started the race by grace. Finish it that way too.