1 & 2 Thessalonians: Day 10

You Will Be Counted Worthy

by

Today's Text: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Isaiah 66:15-16, Romans 8:30

Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12, Isaiah 66:15-16, Romans 8:30

I am more of the abundant grace mindset, that all my sins, infractions, and struggles are covered by the spread of the gospel’s cloak. The idea that I must be made worthy of my calling as a child of God rubs raw against me. I don’t like it, if I’m honest. I know my soul, my sins, the weights that so easily entangle me and my proclivity for veering off the seemingly impossible bullseye of perfection. I will not be found worthy. I will be found wanting.

It seems I am always looking for loopholes in my Christian life. I am by nature lazy and despise boundaries and constraints unless they’re of my own making. I look for ways out and around and over or under, but rarely through because through is hard—and I don’t like hard. This is why I like the abundant grace theology: I can fail hard all my life, kick against the pleasant boundaries God has set for me, and I’m still in.

This is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called cheap grace—dependance on a cosmic cloak with nothing of form beneath it: “Forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” When I make the gospel simply about grace and not about the specific work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I have cheapened the work. It becomes another form of godlessness. All about me, my performance, and an automatic pass regardless.

Paul, in 2 Thessalonians, gives me the perfect “gospel catch-22.” I am caught up in a story written before the foundation of time that was written by God and not my own worthiness or sense of it. “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power” (1:11, emphasis mine). Whose calling? Not mine, His. Whose power? Not mine, His. So whose work is this staying worthy? His work by His hand. I cannot wriggle out of this work even if I tried. I am caught in an endless loop of His calling and His power. Caught. Stayed. All in.

There are ways we usurp the gospel’s full work in us, by neglecting to acknowledge the One whose work all this is. It is His power to will and work in us, and any power we might have is a mere shadow, a substanceless trick of the light. He compels and pursues us, He guards us and guides us, He protects us and provides for us, He completes the work of salvation by the power of the Spirit, through the work of the Son and under the care of the Father. This work is by and for and with and about Him—not us. Even my wriggling out of the careful and pleasant boundaries He has laid for me point to His calling and His power (Psalm 16:5-6).

Where are you omitting God from the gospel today? How are you making it simply about grace and your own work? Where are you forgetting the wonderful catch-22 loop you’re bound by and set free within? His calling, His work, and by His power. This grace is not cheap; you were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But this grace is also entirely free—by the work and hand of God—for you.

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Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, and tweets and instagrams at @lorewilbert. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.

  • It’s not about you or me, it’s about God and the work He’s doing in and through us!

  • Lois Wilson

    Cheap Grace vs Free Grace. Wow. That preaches to my heart this morning.

  • Jo Gistand

    Wow. Wow. Wow. This is such a great devotional. “Cheap grace”—-“grace” that does not require sanctification. I pray that the Holy Spirit gives us all the conviction and the grace needed to continue to walk with him, and obey him.

  • I highly recommend the book “Grace, Not Perfection” by Emily Ley.

  • Audrey Gonzalez

    Yes! I also struggle with the “through” when I want the easy way around or out. To be worthy of HIS calling isn’t always easy work or “fun”. But so worth it. I need his grace daily as well as his work in my life to make me worthy of his calling.

  • I am sorry you are going through this. I will pray for you.

  • Christine Mazrim

    I also struggle with not feeling worthy of God’s grace. I have major depressive disorder, so I feel unworthy of life on most days, much less anything like forgiveness from God.

    • She Reads Truth

      Christine, thanks so much for sharing. We are praying for encouragement, strength, and peace for you during this time. We are so grateful to have you a part of our community. -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Libby Kosciuszko

    Wonderfully put!

  • With every lesson the spirit is leading me to learn I’m scraping myself off the floor and starting each day new again. Forgiven.

    Why? Because He’s not asking me to do anything easy. He’s trying to teach me and I’m a student who will fail a number of times before I get better. I know I’ll get better. Not because I can do it but because I can only do it with Him. With his power within me.

    Right now my lesson is to be quiet while my husband is frustrated with me, our kids and/or a situation. It’s okay for me to be angry yet we are also taught step away and come back at a better time to talk it out. This is one of the hardest things for me to do. I really highly dislike letting my husband get away with such things. But he’s not getting away with anything. I keep my eyes on Jesus. He never yelled. He never sought an argument or fuelled one. I’ve got to keep a heavenly mindset.

    As some of you know my marriage is in a very hard season and my husband, falling away from God, has been looking to end our marriage. I’ve been praying for restoration.

    I recognize my only job is to obey and follow what the holy spirit is telling me to do. God gives me grace for my mistakes, comforts me in my frustration and pain, promises to defend me and every day I try hard to turn to him, the power within me, to help me obey the little and big things he asks me to do. I know it’s best for me. For my kids. For my marriage. But it is far from easy. Whatever happens, I have peace. I cast my cares on Him. His yoke not mine. His glory not mine.

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Cecilia, thank you for sharing! We are praying for you now-for continued encouragement and comfort. Grateful to have you here! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Churchmouse

    I had a dream just three nights ago. I was sitting before the Lord. My hands were in His hands and we were facing each other. My head was down and I was sobbing uncontrollably. I was so completely aware of all my sin and unworthiness. And yet… He never let go of my hands. He did not speak. But there was such an overwhelming peace. I woke up and immediately wanted to go back to sleep in order to regain that feeling. Friends, my sin is real. And it is awful. Friends, His grace is real. And it is wondrous. I can lean into feeling utterly unworthy and I would be right. And I can lean into His forgiveness and I would also be right. Truly, I desire to live at the center point between those two. I don’t want to be paralyzed by guilt and I don’t want to be flippant about His grace. I want to deeply appreciate both. Two sides of the same coin. The coin is held in His loving hands. And I’m just undone by that.

    • Callie

      ❤️

    • Christina

      What a powerful, elegant, soul-stirring message you’ve so eloquently shared here! In the midst of my own dark nights of the soul filled with twisted thoughts bound up in anger that is borne of abject fear and utter helplessness, your words, the dream you had, the vision of the Lord holding your hands and not letting go as you sob through your sin and own sense of unworthiness—I am undone by such Truth. I am shattered by such Love that I do not deserve.

      John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14 echoes deep within me:

      “Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
      As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
      That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
      Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

      Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
      But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
      Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
      Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
      Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
      Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”

      Thank you for posting your message, for it has saved at least one unworthy life this dark night.

  • Marie Brown

    Hi all, New to the Bible and exploring my faith— question for you all. How does one properly repent or confess? How do you integrate this into your lives?

    • Hannah EliseAcosta

      Hi Marie! I’m so excited that you are on this journey of faith. I think true confession starts with the understanding that God’s grace covers our shame. In Romans 8:1, it says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, meaning, for those who have accepted Him as their Savior. If you’ve made that decision to follow Christ, you now have nothing to fear! You don’t have to fear death because now you have been granted eternal life through Christ Jesus.

      The Bible says that we all fall short of God’s glory and we will always miss the mark when it comes to God’s standards. BUT, confession is still key because it is an act of surrender to the Lord. That sometimes is a daily process of spending time with Him and reading His Word. The gospel frees you to live in the light through confession and repentance because God has already covered your sin. 1 John 1:9 says that if you confess your sin, he is faithful to forgive you and purify you.

      Confession can take place between you and God in your prayer time or if you have a trusted pastor or friend, that also is good. God bless you, Marie! I hope this answered your question.

    • Marytony Torres

      Repentance is an acknowledgement of our sin and shortcomings and asking for God’s forgiveness. But part of repentance is not just to say “I am sorry, God”, but it implies to turn away from the sin, attitude, or wrong we were living in. We can’t do it on our own, but we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live differently.
      We will still sin (sanctification is a life long process), but the Bible says that we “no longer practice sin”. But when we miss the mark, we repent and move on.
      I hope this helps! Welcome to the adventure of a life-time!!!

    • Marie Brown

      Thank you so much! You have both been very helpful!

  • Times are still hard but I’m thankful for those sweet moments as I drive my highschooler son to school and he puts on the song King of My Heart and we sing it together. My heart is glad

    • Irina

      I’m thankful for God that He gives you happy moments amongst your struggles and you have so grateful heart to notice those moments. ❤

  • This was so convicting for me. It’s a “walk the walk” vs a “talk the talk” situation. We can all recite bible passages and look up commentary but is it all gettinfthrough to our hearts? I know I fall victim to just checking the box of my daily bible reading and convincing myself I’m covered. But I know that is t what God is after. He wants a changed heart, a repentant heart and heart that is poured out and ready to be filled by Him. I know I need help in this area-and I can turn directly to God.

  • Such a great lesson and comments, if you haven’t read Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald Whitney, I highly recommend it. There is currently (just started this week) an on line book club lead by Intentional by Grace studying this book! It’s exactly what we are talking about today.

    • Rhonda Johnson

      Either you or someone else mentioned this book before, I have it downloaded!! I thinks I will dig into it after finishing the comments here!!

  • This hit me right where I needed it. Oh how I often fall into the category of cheap grace- accepting that god has made me white as snow without asking for forgiveness, without viewing his power above my own. There is something spectacular in these verses as I know I need to surrender and view God as almighty, bowing before Him, asking for forgiveness, for guidance and for the eyes to see all that he wants me to see. A life focused on God is the best life. God forgive me for making this life about me. For taking it into my own hands, along with worry, fear and pride. I pray you get rid of this in me. Change my heart and make me new as I live through you and for you, worthy of the gospel you called me to.

  • I’ve been struggling in this area so much lately. Living in freedom in Christ and not in perfection. Truly wanting to be that purified bride for Christ, but trying to purify myself and beating myself up when I constantly don’t measure up. I heard a quote recently that said to ‘preach the gospel to yourself daily.’ Lord, give me a heart to know your work on the Cross and the power and love it holds.

  • “When I make the gospel simply about grace and not about the specific work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I have cheapened the work”

    Wow! I think this sums up why it’s so easy to be a “Christian” in our society. We can be saved and then continue leading the life we want to live. But God has so much more for us if we continue being led by him and truly allow Him to shape our steps.

    The old hymn came to mind right before I read this, so I’ll share it here:

    Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. And all these things shall be added unto you. Hallelu hallelujah!

  • Marissa Crowson

    I’m learning what it means to be dependent on God for my sanctification and for everything else as well. I can’t do it on my own. This was an encouraging reminder that it is all in his power.

  • Samantha Samuelsen

    Spot on!
    The more that I put emphasis on me (my calling, my struggles, my weakness), the easier it becomes to fall prey to the “cheap grace” theology. The freedom of God and expression of His grace is seen in the call to holiness because it shows His commitment to us by not allowing us to settle for anything less than His absolute best. The ability to live righteously by the power of the Spirit is another way that God showers grace (not shame) on us!

  • Tricia Owens

    I love this writing .

  • The light is beginning to come on for me. So many of the measuring levels that I set for myself to meet before I could be a “good Christian” are melting away. In fact, it isn’t about me at all. I can do none of this on my own power, nor does God want me to. It is all about Him. Turning myself to Him and forgetting myself. I’ve tried so hard for so long only to realize that God didn’t want my efforts. He wants me. I am to want Him and only Him.

    I recently read this thought from C.S. Lewis. He was talking about this very thing. How precious that God brings so many seemingly random words to us in order to open our eyes to what He wants us to see.

    “For He claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.” C.S. Lewis

    He bought us with a price and requires all of us in return. That said, He knows we have feet of clay and plod along slowly.
    Thank God for being so patient with us!

  • Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Have you ever thought about that verse? Is it possible to sit back and relax and still make it into heaven if you aren’t living in His will? Food for thought. So many of us were taught all you have to do is believe Jesus died for your sins and you get a golden ticket? But, do you really? Not a chance I would be willing to take.

  • Morning ladies!!
    Cheap grace, interesting concept…
    The last time I was in my bible study group I was slightly shocked by how we all found it easy to talk about grace but how repentence was a bit like a dirty word (well, in my language…). The focus was so much on: we are saved and we are free. God doesn’t call out so much rules, was the average opinion and people who felt they were not worthy, were seen to be under the curse of the law. I don’t dare to speak up to boldly in such situations. After all, it always remains a tricky one, doesn’t it? Because it is true: we ARE free and we ARE worthy in him. Who am I to say: thou shalt be feeling guilty and unworthy in order to obtain God’s grace. Yet at the same time I did feel the way people portrayed God’s grace was too cheap, too easy…

    Having said all this, I think that even though we are there to build each other up, the reality is that I should also look into my own heart and see how repentant I am, really. And though I do often find someone who often feels “not good enough”, this is often about “not being the best in my work, family; not eating healthy enough, not keeping my house clean enough” and not so much about “being a sinner who needs to be saved”…

    • Stephanie Mann

      Thanks for sharing Songbird! Ditto

    • Sandy Forsythe

      God paid a mighty price for Jesus to hang on the cross for us… He did it to pay for us – our cost of sin… it is utter Grace… He wants none of us lost, yet He will hold us accountable for right and wrong- for how we live each day. It’s not a get off of jail free card that we picked up somewhere in our life- our love and faith and belief have to be active and alive –
      Dead discarded fake faith- is just that, a death sentence.
      Ask yourself tough questions today, do I believe HIM? Or do I just believe in Him. Even the fallen angels believe in him – and they are eternally dammed. God’s grace is free, but is not cheep.

    • Amy Kuo

      Thanks for sharing, Songbird – I’ve felt that way too in group discussions. It’s a lot more comfortable to talk about free grace than to call someone to repentance. What if we offend them??! seems to be the reasoning. We are seeking to please man, not God, in those cases. I witnessed this in action recently and it was very disheartening and now I understand why I felt so saddened. But I am a recovering “earn my salvation” addict eager to hold the mirror up to myself too.

    • Katie Morrison

      Oh yes, it is hard work to hold ourselves accountable. But David asked God to search his heart and point out the areas he needed to check. (Ps. 139:24) It’s hard work to find time and stamina to pray and examine our hearts. David was called a man after God’s own heart. If we want to grow in our relationship with God, we have to do maintenance. This is hard for me! I have three children, teach full time, am a pastors wife and am constantly surrounded by little ones so my alone time with Jesus is something I HAVE to carve out and intentionally plan.

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