It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. Hebrews 13:9
Have you ever thought of grace as strengthening you heart? I haven’t until I asked my wife about this and she said, “Oh yes! It’s my only hope.”
As often happens, I need to find out what she’s talking about. Marti’s secular understanding of God is often truer to the truth than my evangelical one.
So looking at the passage around this statement (remember this is a book written to Hebrew Christians), we find, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so” (Hebrews 13:9-10).
Well there you have it: eating ceremonial foods will not strengthen your heart. I wonder if that has anything to do with calories. Probably not. But it has everything to do with the law. Here grace is contrasted with eating certain foods which would be an expression of the law of Moses, and we know, although the law is good, it will never save anybody.
And yet we keep trying. Walk into any Christian bookstore and notice the “How-to” statements on the back liner of most books. Many of my books have it even though the book was not written with that in mind. It’s a marketing tool — a testament as to how the law continues to have a tight grip on all of us. It’s in our DNA. Perform, fulfill expectations, earn rewards, or lose. It’s pretty much behind everything we do and a lot of what we think about all the time.
Law leaves you fearful or prideful. You never know whether you are doing enough. When your spirituality is based on law, there are always a few people who may appear to be doing it right, but the rest are living in uncertainty. (Actually those who look like they are doing it right are in uncertainty too, they can just hide it better than most.) You are always wondering whether you are getting all the steps right, and then just when you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, some new strange teaching comes along and upends everything. Trying to be good enough for God is a fruitless enterprise. Like someone said the other day, “Well I did the best I could. What do you expect?” God expects perfection; nothing less.
But this dilemma is what saves us. What the law can’t do grace does. The law breaks us down until we give up trying and throw ourselves at the mercy of God, and that’s when we realize that in receiving God’s grace, we are with the lowliest of the low, and it is so good. So good to have no one to judge. So good to have no one to compare to. So happy to have nowhere to look but up. So glad to be around those you can’t help but love because of grace turned outward.
How good it is for our hearts to be strengthened by grace!