Boasting of Grace
Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law. – Romans 3:27-28
As a child growing up in the Bible Belt, I thought Christians were supposed to be perfect. That’s probably why it took me a while to become one. I heard Christian classmates judging others for what they did wrong, and I knew that I could never measure up to those kinds of standards. A club for perfect people was one I could never join.
Later on in seminary, I learned about grace. Far from what I thought Christians believed when I was growing up, it turns out that God doesn’t require perfection from us in order to love us. God loves us so much that God gives us grace; unearned and undeserved. As an academic concept, it was beautiful.
After seminary, when I was going through a rough patch in my own life, my imperfection became even more apparent to me. The good news is: that’s when grace did, too. No longer an academic concept, the knowledge that God was full of grace became my comfort and strength.
Years later my life is quite good. I am sometimes tempted to feel superior about that. Sometimes I could almost boast that I pulled myself up by my own bootstraps. That’s nonsense, though. The reality is that the grace of God found me, and lifted me up, often through the hands of a whole lot of good people. I had to do my part to respond, but God’s grace is what got me there.
God, help me to boast more about God’s grace, and less about my own works.
Emily C. Heath is the Senior Pastor of The Congregational Church in Exeter (New Hampshire) and the author most recently of Courageous Faith: How to Rise and Resist in a Time of Fear.