Barb Harwood photo
This morning I conducted a little inventory of the sin God has removed from my life. I thought of the times when, even though I asked God to help me stop sinning in a certain way, and really wanted to stop, I also found I was still attracted to that sin; it had become habit, or a comfort/escape mechanism, or a way to avoid having to learn to deal with people and issues constructively.
But I found that, as I continued in prayer, whether God removed the sin quickly or over a period of time, at some point, when I was tempted to sin in that way again, I couldn’t. I found no attraction in it, and the thought of sinning in that way repelled me. Eventually even the temptation itself, in those areas, stopped. I praise God for His Holy Spirit and victory over sin!
As I sat outside this morning, looking out on my mini-meadow of a perennial garden and thinking about all the ways God has purified me, it struck me that I tend to spend a lot of time asking God to remove sin from my life, and not nearly enough time asking Him to grow Grace. If He takes away sin, He can also add Grace. Just as the majority of perennials in my garden are currently in full bloom, I, too, can have the majority of me be God’s Grace in bloom as well.
As sin goes away, the void can be filled with Grace. Certainly it is Holy in itself to have sin removed. But I don’t think I’ve sought or cultivated the Grace of our Lord Jesus. I think I’m so relieved to have a sin removed that I immediately begin praying about the next sin! I guess what I’m saying is, along with the requests to purify us from our transgressions, we can ask that the many Holy Graces of God grow in us. Because as great as sinless living is, and a wonderful testimony, even greater is sinless living that also bears the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control; Galatians 5:22-23). God overcoming sin in us is only half of our witness; His abundant Grace growing out of that is the other.
My garden began as a clean, weed-free, freshly turned plot of earth. But instead of leaving it as a nice tidy piece of rich soil, I planted lilies and daisies, Black-eyed Susan’s and Yarrow, Butterfly Bush and Prairie Milkweed. In the same way, God’s Grace planted and lived out in us is the bloom on the cleansed and purified heart.
“Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:6-12
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:9
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9