I’m finally on the last chapter of Transforming Grace. I’ve been on the next to last chapter for some time, but got distracted by life. Tonight, I stopped at a Starbucks, enjoyed a coffee and a pastry, and read some more in the book. This brought me to the final chapter, “Garments of Grace.” It definitely caused me to stop and think.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Jerry Bridges states,
Of course, the main thrust of Paul’s teaching in this passage is that we are to clothe ourselves with Christlike virtues, what I call “garments of grace.” But he grounds his exhortation on the grace of God — on the fact that we are chosen by Him, holy in His sight, and dearly loved by Him. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, for us to show compassion or patience to someone else if we are not sure God is patient with us — or worse, if we don’t sense the need for God to be patient with us. So these garments of gracious Christian character can only be put on by those who are consciously experiencing God’s grace in their own lives.
Hold it! I don’t know about you, but I struggle with patience — mostly when it comes to my children. Still, I struggle with it. I very quickly grow impatient with the extreme emotions of our five year old. The strong-willed defiance of our three year old easily sets off my anger. Could it be that I am so proud as to think that I don’t need God to be patient with me?
Now, if you were to ask me that, I would say, “Of course I need God to be patient with me! I’m always messing things up!” But is that what my life says that I believe?
An old friend used to always tell me, “You live what you believe.” He’s right. It’s just like the old chair illustration. I sit in the chair because I believe it will hold me up. If I don’t believe that the chair will hold me, then I won’t sit in it.
We may think that we believe that we need God’s patience, but if we are unwilling to show patience to others, then what do we really believe about our own need for patience? What does it say about how or if we are experiencing God’s grace in our lives in this area?
I’m sure that He is extending His patience towards me more abundantly than I can imagine! Now I need to seek His mercy and grace to help me more fully realize my need for it. Perhaps then, I will be empowered to be more patient with my children. When I see my over-abundant need for His patience towards me, then I will probably be more likely to extend greater patience towards them.
I can’t say that I enjoy the repentance and refining process, but I do like what happens on the other side. So my prayer tonight is that He would show me the greatness of my sin before Him and how much greater is His patience extended in grace, then transform my heart and mind to be more like Him so that I would be clothed with patience towards others.
Perhaps over the next few days it would be good to seek His work in all the other character traits that Paul mentions in the Colossians passage…