When was the last time you felt like the apostle Peter and thought you knew better than the Lord in a particular area of life? Did you ever decide to provide a refined rebuke or cold correction to the Almighty?
Peter took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22)
If you pause for a moment and think about your average day, you just might be surprised at how many times you say, “Never, Lord!” And I think the area we all struggle the most is in the area of grace. The words of 2 Corinthians 12:9—“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”—often unleash my unbelief, and I wander off into far countries looking for something smaller than Jesus to meet my needs, lift my spirits, and bless my hurting heart.
- We say “NEVER” to God’s grace when we look for our purpose in our profession.
- We say “NEVER” to God’s grace when we look for our significance in our success.
- We say “NEVER” to God’s grace when we look for our meaning in our ministry.
- We say “NEVER” to God’s grace when we look for our approval in our accomplishments.
God’s grace is sufficient to guide us, govern us, and grow us into the person God is calling us to be. His power is made perfect in our weakness, and it is God’s perfect plan to work through imperfect and weak people, providing all the purpose, significance, meaning, and approval we could possibly hope for or even imagine.
Far too often we say, “Never, Lord!” when it comes to acknowledging that His grace is totally sufficient for our salvation. To His mercy we want to add our merit. To His grace we want to add our good works. To His finished work we want to add our feeble works. Our sinful human nature simply will not receive the completed work of our Savior on the cross; we look for every imaginable way to supplement it.
And when we can receive the grace that is sufficient for our salvation we say, “Never, Lord!” to that same grace that sanctifies us as well. Deep down we believe that the only way we will grow up in our faith is by the spiritual sweat of our own brow. We believe God will bless us when we do good and curse us when we do less than good. Well, in the words of my friend and pastor, Steve Brown, that idea “smells like smoke and comes from the pit of hell.” Nevertheless, we refuse to believe that God is not angry with us anymore and no longer seeking to exact His pound of flesh when we step out of line and mess things up.
Let us never say “Never, Lord!” to the truths of the Gospel because we simply cannot understand the greatness of our God. May we say, “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” to every Gospel truth and simply trust in His every Word. May our Lord gently rebuke us, correct us, and exhort us until we rest in the reality of our completed redemption until that day we are received into glory.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!