Titus 3:5 (GW)
5 He saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal.
Have you ever noticed that we talk a lot about grace? I have heard many definitions for grace. Two that I like are God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense and getting what we don’t deserve – God’s love. Notice that in both the emphasis is on God as the giver. Both emphasize God as the doer. You and I are the receiver.
The reason we talk so much about grace is because the Bible is full of grace. Titus 3:5 tells us that we did not do anything to get God’s approval; in fact, we only get God’s approval because of the Holy Spirit who washes us clean. Once again, we see God as the giver of approval and God as the doer. He is the one who washes us clean. We are but the receiver.
It really takes off the pressure on us. There is nothing we can do or ever will do to make us worthy of God’s love. But God still loves us anyway. Now that doesn’t mean that we can just do whatever we want. How rude that would be to receive such lavish love and then live like we never received it. Titus 3:5 also tells us that because of the washing of the Holy Spirit, because of the love of God, we are born again. This means we have, in fact, a do over. We have a fresh start. Though we can’t do anything to get God’s approval, we can show our gratitude to God by the way we live.
If you read the letters of Paul, you will see that he often exhorts us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. Because of God’s undeserved love for us, we are to live as changed people. Our lives should reflect the love of the one who loves us.
How do we live changed lives? By going deeper in our relationship with Jesus. One way of going deeper is to be in prayer. We are to imitate Christ. As we look at the life of Jesus we see that He spent time in prayer. Mark 1:35 (GW) 35 In the morning, long before sunrise, Jesus went to a place where he could be alone to pray. Because Jesus spent time in prayer, we too should spend time in prayer. Too often we make prayer the last thing we do. We exhaust every other resource at our disposal; then we pray. We should make prayer the first thing we do.
Prayer is the simplest thing to do, and yet it is also the hardest thing to do. We tend to pray grocery lists. But prayer is really about relationship. I am no expert in prayer. I have decided to make one of my learning focuses this year to learn more about prayer. I have begun to read some books on prayer. I highly recommend Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. Another book I recommend is The Battle Plan for Prayer. This is the book that we as a church will study together. Join a small group and learn together how to pray. Join us for the movie this is based on this Saturday, April 29, 6 – 8 pm. We will be handing out the books and signing people up for small groups.
When it comes to our salvation, God is the doer; we are the receiver. Let us not live lives like we haven’t received God’s undeserved love. Rather, let us live lives that reflect His love to others. Let’s start with prayer.