It seems like grace versus works is an endless topic of debate in the Christian world. There are people who concentrate on nothing but works, people who behave like grace means you can behave in any manner you wish and then there's everything in between.
Romans 10:9 tells us
that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.1 John 1:9 says
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.I believe that with all of my heart but does that mean I can behave like a spoiled brat and ignore God's expectations?
While contemplating this, I turned to the parable of the wedding feast. A king arranges for the marriage of his son. He sends out the invitations and everything is made ready but the guests refuse to come. Some of them even attack and kill messengers of the king. He sends out his armies to destroy them and burn their city.
Then the king sends his servants out into the highways to invite everyone they find to the wedding. Matthew 22:10 (NKJV)
When the king comes in to see the guests, he sees something unusual. Everyone is wearing a wedding garment except for one man. Some commentators say everyone would have been provided with a wedding garment. Others say it was up to the guest to wear an appropriate garment. In any case, every single one of these people (the house was full) had been brought in "off the streets" so to speak yet all of them were wearing appropriate garments except for one man. This was an insult. The king had invited him into his home. He was given a seat at the king's own table and yet he put forth absolutely no effort into trying to show respect for the king or his son. It was sort of like taking the king's grace (he didn't earn nor deserve an invitation) and throwing an insult back at the king.
Now, when I was a little girl and heard this story, I would start coming up with all sorts of excuses for the man. It wasn't his fault, he didn't have proper clothing, he didn't have time to change, etc. Now I know better because you see, I've learned that God is a righteous judge.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. Psalm 19:9This tells me the man had no legitimate excuse, he simply did not do what he knew he was supposed to do.
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. Galatians 4:4-7 (NIV)This makes us sons and daughters of The King. I like to call us princes and princesses.
A good parent sets clear expectations. They don't allow their children to behave any old way. In fact, the quickest way for you to make a child feel unloved is to not set any expectations for them. You make them feel like they're just not worth putting any effort into. Really.
I may be a princess but that doesn't give me the freedom to run around and act any way I please. I can't go around the countryside being rude and abusive to everyone I meet. I can't go and hang out in places doing things a Princess of God has no business doing. A question I must always keep before me is: Would someone be shocked and surprised to learn I'm a Princess of God? If they would, then I need to step in front of the mirror and examine myself carefully. Why are they shocked? Are my actions befitting a princess? Are my words befitting a princess? Am I running around in the garments made by the King's own dear hands and given to me personally or am I covering them up and hiding them with some old, dirty, smelly rags I found. Am I feasting at the table of the King or am I dumpster-diving? God doesn't want me to just be a princess, He wants me to act like one!
Amen! I frequently remind my loved one that being honest and truthful doesn't give a princess license to be brutal and hurtful with their words. Speak the truth in love.
Like you, I struggled with this parable in my younger days, until I learned that the wedding garments were symbolic of Christ's robes of righteousness, which are necessary to be admitted to the wedding feast, and which He gives us freely if we but put them on.
Thank you for this blog! I was thinking the very same sort of thing yesterday, that we are to act like the King's children! For me, in my family, and in my house, that means rising above petty arguments and selfish desires. A good princess (you know, the kind of princess that reflects the rule of her father) doesn't argue over who's turn it is to do the dishes, and doesn't ask their husbands to take on extra work because they don't want to get off their duff. They don't raise a fuss when they have to sacrifice the few chunks of meat on their plate so that their child has plenty of good food to eat. A good princess is marked with grace, dignity, kindness, and responsibility to help the the less able. This is an outpouring of their position. For us as Christians, I would say that first you are saved by grace, and then the grace flows from you in good works.
Although I was thinking along these lines of royal adoption, I have to say I would never have considered this story. What great insight!