Glimpses of Grace All Around
If the word of God is for everyday people who do everyday things, then surely Scripture talks about how we can magnify God in the midst of the mundane. And if the mundane moments of dishes and diapers can be done with an aim to enjoying God, then the spiritual vitality we will experience in our home is nothing short of miraculous.
The opportunity for growth in holiness lies right in front of your face—sitting in the tepid dishwasher, festering in the laundry basket, at your crowded dinner table, and under the car seat where your toddler stashed her leftover granola bar for later. Sure, fuzzy mold might be growing there, but in these moments it is also where growth in holiness happens.
Right where we are, we can see glimpses of grace as we learn to apply passages like Colossians 3:1–3, which says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
God powerfully brings our ministry to fruition and our deeds done in faith (2 Thess. 1:11). So, that umpteenth dirty diaper, when viewed in light of the hope and promises in God’s word, can be a significant means of God’s transforming work in your life.
The Cross, the Crown, and the “Titus 2 Woman”
Let’s look at Titus 2 as an example. Titus 2 is a nitty-gritty, practical, how-to list of qualities that godly women ought to have and things godly women ought to do. Women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or enslaved to alcohol (Titus 2:3). Women are to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their husband (Titus 2:5). Women are to teach what is good (i.e., “sound doctrine,” Titus 2:1), training younger women to love their husband and children (Titus 2:4).
Titus 2 contains not only a to-do list of things that you could post on an index card on your bathroom mirror. Titus 2 also gives us our motive for doing these things, which is that “the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:5) and that “in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior” (Titus 2:10). Motivation can’t be written on an index card—it must be written on your heart.
How does this motive to adorn the gospel of God get written on our hearts? Our hearts must be transformed by Christ. Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people” (Titus 2:11). Paul adds in verse 12 that this grace is “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12).
The gospel motivation is presented with a promise of a future hope. As we are doing these things, we are “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13–14).
That’s where faith comes in and the rubber meets the road. When I look back to the cross and see that God did not spare his own Son for me (Rom. 8:32), and when I look forward to God’s promises of future glory (Titus 2:13), he gives me the power to graciously pick up after my husband, who forgot to rinse his cup, and not seethe with anger and lash out verbally.
Two Wrong Ways Don’t Make It Right
I can imagine what you may be thinking at this point because I’m thinking it too. I believe that is true, but I’ve got lots of things going against me. I can’t hold that idea in my mind long enough to meditate on it. I can already hear static baby noises from the next room coming through the baby monitor. I can’t apply these truths with consistency. What if it’s not just a dirty cup but an entire house that looks like a sandstorm was unleashed inside? What then?
The opportunity for growth in holiness lies right in front of your face.
I need to have my heart change.
If you’re like me, then you might be ready to give up right now. That is so tempting for me. I see the high standards of holiness, but I know I can’t possibly meet them. In this case I might just slop my way through the dishes, grumbling in my heart and making snide remarks about “how many times have I reminded you” hoping to shame my husband into making a sincere confession of how he’s wrong and I’m right. (When has that strategy ever worked, by the way?)
Or I could approach this scene a different way. I know the Bible says to do all things without grumbling and to hold onto the gospel instead (Phil. 2:14), and I want to do what is right. God teaches us how to love each other (1 Thess. 4:9). And I want to honor God in everything I do, just as 1 Corinthians 10:31 says I should. I determine that what I need to do is try harder. So I tape an index card with Philippians 2:14 on it to the window above my sink so that I will be reminded not to sin. Then I do the dishes and I hold my tongue as my husband passes by the kitchen. Now I’ve managed to avoid cutting remarks and clanging the dishes around to solicit attention and a possible apology. Nice work, Gloria, you’ve done it. I congratulate myself on a job well done. My gloating, however, reveals that I have another problem on my hands: self-righteousness. The forbearance I displayed in the kitchen apparently wasn’t a fruit of the Spirit. It was rooted in sinful pride. At the end of the day I’m steeped in self-righteousness —basking in pride or wallowing in guilt that I could have done a better job.
The dirty dishes are not my biggest problem in life, even though it seems like they are when they’re stacked up to the ceiling and I’ve got a million other things to do. The biggest problem in my life and yours is sin. How can I stand before the God who does all things according to his character, a character that includes perfect justice (2 Thess. 1:6)?
Jesus: A Home Manager’s Only Hope
So what can be done? Clearly we can’t live our lives lawlessly, taking pot shots at people to make ourselves feel better. And clearly we can’t just muster up our self-determination and will power to “do the right thing.” I simply can’t do it. Either way I choose, I don’t please God.
Thankfully there is one who did. Jesus did everything without complaining, including going to the cross to die in my place and taking my sin on himself. Jesus is the ultimate man who lives in sincere submission to God the Father. The Bible teaches that not only is Jesus my example but he is also my Savior. His atoning death did just that—he atoned for (paid for) my sins. And he didn’t stay dead. Jesus is the one who says, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Rev. 1:18). When I take hold of Jesus by faith as my only hope to please God, God declares that I am justified. Christ’s righteousness becomes mine. That’s grace.
This article is adapted from Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home.
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