by Pastor Tim Burt
On a Sunday night in June 19 years ago, I had one of the most transformational nights of my entire Christian walk. I was in a Sunday evening church service and God began to speak to me about something that wasn’t even the topic of the sermon being preached. He began during the message, and then continued speaking to me about it all week.
I know many people who tell me they get distracted and their thoughts drift when they are supposed to be listening closely. I am seldom one of those people. In church, I listen intently and take notes. But on this night, it was like I was having a dream while I was awake. I couldn't hear a word except what God was speaking to me about. The Lord was speaking to me about His grace vs. man’s pride.
One second I am listening intently to the message being preached and suddenly the Lord begins to talk to me about grace. To be honest, I’d never thought much about grace. I knew the Bible said that I was “saved by grace through faith." (Ephesians 2:8) I just kind of looked at grace as God’s mercy and never thought too much more about it. The Lord was schooling me. He began to speak to me and said, Tim, do you realize that I have helped you at every turning point in your life? Do you realize that every good thing in your life is because of me? Then He immediately began to take me through my past. I could see His hand on my life memory after memory.
Let me pause here to say that prior to this experience, I was in pride. I didn’t know it and I didn’t think I was. It wasn’t arrogant pride. I don’t think it was obnoxious pride. I felt good about myself. I wasn’t looking down at anyone. I wasn’t thinking I was better than anyone. I was just in pride in regards to taking credit for the hard work and accomplishments of my life. Having said that, let me continue on from where I paused…
The Lord began to take me through my past. He said, Tim, tell me the things you are proud of in your life, past and present. That was a difficult question. There were many parts of my life I felt good about. There was also a boatload of history that I was ashamed of. I began to think about the places, the events, and the choices that I had made that turned out well. As I did, something so powerful happened, that it changed me forever. I can’t over emphasize this! The Lord began to show me how he was involved and helped me at every one of those points in my life. He reminded me of people He had sent to help me. He began to show me Christian influences that He was using to guide me—and this was before I was a Christian and understood anything about it. He took me step-by-step through my life and showed me how, and who He had used to help me in every achievement I had been proud of. Suddenly I could see God’s hand in every achievement in my life! I was stunned!
When this happened, I realized that every good thing that had ever happened in or to my life was from Him. He then said these words, That is my grace. He said, My grace is my mercy, compassion, and ability working in you and your life to help you fulfill the destiny I’ve asked you to walk out in me. To be honest, as I started looking over all my life, I could see God’s grace at every turn. It humbled me. I was suddenly embarrassed that I thought it was all "my accomplishment." It immediately stripped me of all pride. It made me shutter to think what would have happened along the way if the Lord hadn’t helped me in every situation. I was so powerfully humbled. It changed how I viewed everything. It changed how I shared my testimony of my life. It changed my entire perspective of life. I could tell you so much more.
Today I just want to leave you with this. It made me a new person in this way. Sometimes things seem to go really wrong in life. At those times, you aren’t glorying in how great you do. You are hopefully on your knees before the throne room of grace asking for God’s help.
Likewise, sometimes things you do go really right! You had something you needed to do. Hopefully you prayed and asked for God’s help. Then everything comes together and you experience a great accomplishment. It is at times like this, pride can so subtly sneak in. People may be giving you kudos, patting you on the back, singing your praises, telling you how great you are, and on and on. But the truth for me is, the Lord has helped me in ever situation and accomplishment. Without Him I would not have been able to do it. And secondly, the Lord helps me for the sake of His plan and purposes and out of His love for others—not just me.
God cares about you and me as an individual. He also cares about the plan He is working in the earth. The successes He helps us experience aren’t for pride. They some how in some way glorify God. And He is the one who, by His grace, helps us experience any kind of success to begin with. This is why Jesus said in John 15:5 NLT, "Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. FOR APART FROM ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING.”
Now, any and every time I get anything right and people are kind to me in expressing the good they have seen or experienced, I only think, “By His grace.” I am so flawed and yet everything that has gone good in my life is because of Him. I praise Him and give Him alone the glory for any good that I am able to experience. There is no reason for pride.
John 1:16 NLT "From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another"
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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