The other day as I was walking to work, the song Wonderful Grace, was going through my head. The first verse goes:
Wonderful grace that gives what I don’t deserve
Pays me what Christ has earned and lets me go free
Wonderful grace that gives me the time to change
Washes away the stains that once covered me
It occurred to me for the first time that I’d never considered the idea of God’s grace giving us time to change. I’d always though of it like ok, I’m forgiven, now I must never do that again. Obviously never doing something again is the optimum result. But sometimes it’s hard, and God knows we’re human and loves us nonetheless, and He knows we can change even if it takes time. This doesn’t mean that God thinks procrastination is a good idea, or that He thinks it’s wise for us to just wait for change to happen when we can do things to speed up the changing process, like being accountable to someone else for whatever the issue is.
As I was thinking about this I did realise that it’s just a song lyric, and whilst it seems fairly common sensical to say God understands that it takes time for us to change, it’s always good to look at what the bible has to say. Maybe someone else can think of a more relevant passage, but the first thing I thought of is when Jesus is praying to God that if there is any other way, so that He wouldn’t have to die on the cross (Matt 26:39). God came to earth as a man and experienced first hand that it’s hard to do the right thing. Being fully God and fully human, He was able to follow through and do the right thing, and consequently we are saved by His death and resurrection. Being fully human but not being God ourselves, we get it wrong sometimes, and don’t do the right thing when it’s hard. But because Jesus has experienced that, God understands, and has grace for that.
Most importantly, God created us to do good works (Eph 2:10) and He knows that we are capable of doing them. As I was reminded in a sermon the other week, God is the Creator, and as such knows much better what we His creation is capable of doing than we do. He has grace for failure, and this doesn’t mean we should settle for not changing.