Do you feel unworthy? You must understand the meaning of grace.

I Timothy 1:12 – 17 – “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

Paul was chosen by Christ to take the gospel to the Gentiles and much of the New Testament tells of his past. He was the worst of sinners. He says we should look at him and see how desperate he was. He then praises God and says if He can save me, empower and strengthen me, then by His grace He can and will do it for anyone.

Scripture says that Paul did not exaggerate his past. He approved the stoning of Stephen. His purpose, prior to being converted, an ultimate goal was to destroy Christianity and the church. He went from home to home dragging people off to prison. He yelled murderous threats to the Lord’s disciples. He was a huge part of the Jewish persecution of Christians. The Jews put some to death and others were placed into prisons. He did whatever he could to oppose the followers of Christ.

Regardless of everything that Paul said and did, once saved, God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit gave him the love for both believers and unbelievers. What Paul lacked God supplied. What He did for Paul He can and will do for each one of us because of His grace. As we know, grace is a gift and cannot be earned. Yet, many believers struggle with grace, which is given through Jesus Christ, believing that they must work and earn their way to heaven. Too often we set ourselves personal standards that we cannot reach or the church or church people do it for us. Frustrated and discouraged we feel like failures and unworthy to be children of God.

How does one become convinced we are forgiven and accept God’s grace? We must thoroughly understand the meaning of “grace” because it is major in comprehending what the New Testament is based upon and how God is different from the Old Testament. It may take reaching a certain spiritual maturity. But once we fathom the meaning of grace and can accept it, then Christ wants to show His unlimited patience in our lives. We then can become examples to others. So we may need to stop trying to make certain changes in our lives, which many cannot do and totally die out to our self-centered nature and let the Holy Spirit make those changes for us. But that can only be done by faith in Christ that God truly loves us regardless of our past, present or future. However, our part is to become obedient and accountable to the teaching of the Gospel. If we do not know what the Gospel teaches it makes it most difficult to feel accepted by God and feel worthy. We do not earn being worthy. We are made worthy by God through His Spirit. It is His gift and it is “free” to us. Do you have the faith to accept it?

There are three things that can make us feel worthy: faith, love and hope. First, faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ. To have faith requires certain facts. The Gospel is a simple message that God asks us to believe. The world continuously looks at a Christian to see how they treat other people and family. The Gospel repeatedly states that we are to love our brothers and if we have hate in our hearts we will not have eternal life with Christ. Lastly, hope is believing in the future and our lives in heaven and beyond. Why have love for Jesus Christ if there is no hope. Possibly it is the “hope” we have for eternal life that motivates us to have “faith” to accept and the “love” that comes from being transformed by the Holy Spirit.

It is the acceptance of God’s grace that forgives our sins. It is faith, love and hope that helps us understand that through Christ we are judged worthy to become God’s children. It is the devil who tries to defeat us through promoting negative thinking that we are just not worthy and God’s grace won’t change that! It is the Holy Spirit who is trying to convince us otherwise. To whom should we listen?

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