When We Dilute the Gospel of Grace (Link-up)

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For a long time, I believed a lie which is threatening the very heartbeat of our church. It sneaks in like a slow poison and its symptoms are often loss of joy, endless business and little time for meaningful relationships.

It doesn’t announce itself with brazen warning signs or even seem evident in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. But it’s there, and it’s endangering the gospel message Christ was crucified to bring to the lost and weary.

It pollutes the hope of our Redeemer and plants the seed of doubt. It says we can never do enough, be enough or work enough. Our salvation is not free, but is bought with a price.

It’s the message of striving.

Most of the time it’s presented with splashes of so-called grace along with it, but at the core it’s the same.

Because grace cannot be watered down. The gospel doesn’t say it is by grace plus works that you are saved through faith. No, God doesn’t need us, but through his love he chooses to use us.

“And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Romans 11:6 NIV

The message of striving says, “God’s grace saves you, but you must also do this.”

It whispers, “If you were really a Christian and a good church attendee, you would serve on this committee.”

I know the voice because I listened to it. I went on an endless chase for God, not realizing he was right beside me all along.

I strived and I compared. I looked at other’s lives and works, measuring mine against theirs because after all, I wanted to please God, right? But does a depleted vessel honor God? Does someone who is bone-dry and weary communicate a message of hope and glory?

God gave me his Spirit to bring wisdom, peace and discernment, not a slavery of endless striving. It is for freedom that he set us free.

He says for the heavy-laden to come and lay their burdens down, and yet often we pick up more than we can handle instead. We think if we stop to rest, everything will fall apart. Because if we don’t do it, who will?

It is a blow to my pride to realize the God of the universe is perfectly capable of keeping the earth spinning on its axis without my help. But it is also a huge relief.

He chooses to use me and has beautiful plans for my life, not because he needs me, but because he loves me enough to include me in the grand tapestry he is weaving. His plans are for good and abundance, not anxiety and an over-crammed schedule.

Grace is no longer amazing if we add anything to it.

Will the Spirit of Christ in us produce fruit? Yes, absolutely.

But even the fruitful branches are pruned by a loving God. (John 15:2) He takes away the excess so we can put more energy into what He gives us.

Abide in Him, friends. Listen to his voice. Ask yourself, “Am I doing this to please others more than please God? Do I have the resources to complete this task, or will it deplete me physically, emotionally and spiritually?” He came so we may have life. A life which is full, abundant and radiant.

Let’s leave the rat race to the rats.

Let’s stop striving for his love and start abiding in his grace.


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47 thoughts on “When We Dilute the Gospel of Grace (Link-up)

  1. There is something so reassuring about the words “abide in me”. These words need to be my mantra when I choose busy; my heart when I compare; my everything when I am striving too hard. Beautiful words to begin my day! Thank you for giving me a reminder that God is enough.


    • Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement today, Mary. Yes, I want this to be my mantra too. It’s a fine line, but through this Spirit we are able to abide in his truth. Blessings to you today.


  2. Powerful words Abby. I am a worker bee. I have always been one so the word grace is sometimes difficult to grasp, but by God’s GRACE I am going to trust in HIM and not my works. 🙂 Great message! Be blessed. – Kia


    • Oh Kia, I am a worker bee too. And I know God uses that personality trait in me but it’s so easy for me to fall into working to attain his love, which I can’t do. There’s freedom in knowing he gives it to me willingly and freely. Blessed by you today. Thanks for being here!


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  4. I’m with you here, Abby: Let’s leave the rat race to the rats! Thank you for your words this morning. I’ve been reading a book, The Too-Busy Book and was struck by the contrast between our Busyness and the Bounty God has for us if we will abide in Him. (I think God is speaking to me through your words this morning: to go slowly on a task a friend asked me to do and to do the little I can instead of stressing myself to do the most I can possibly do. I already helped her for 5 hours Saturday, she’ll understand!)


    • Betsy, I’m so glad to hear God is speaking to you. He is faithful. I almost wrote about a different topic today but I felt God stirring my heart on this. Thank you for sharing this morning. Love and hugs to you, sweet friend!


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  6. Amen, I’m with you! Abby, this very message has been deep in my spirit lately. I’ve had to be deliberate about letting go of striving, saying no to busy, and pressing in to my relationship with my Savior. As a result, I feel more alive in Him now than ever before. This week on incourage, Emily Freeman said, “I don’t say no because I’m too busy, I say no because I’m not busy and I have to fight to keep it that way.” That quote stuck with me, and goes right along with your thoughts here. You always have a way of touching my heart with your words, friend!


    • Wow, what powerful words from Emily. I need to remember that. I feel like I’ve been operating out of that same mindset and often question myself, but your words provide affirmation that I’m on the right track. Thank you! I want to be filled with his joy, not mindless busyness. Blessings to you, my friend.


  7. This makes me want to breath in and exhale a whisper of “Amazing Grace”, Abby. You’re right – the striving is a stinker, maybe even a deceitful ploy. And it works all too often. It certainly has for me. But amazing grace – there’s peace in those words. There’s rest. And there’s Jesus.


  8. But even the fruitful branches are pruned by a loving God. (John 15:2) He takes away the excess so we can put more energy into what He gives us. Oh, so very true, Abby. How powerful your words are this morning as they are full of TRUTH. His truth! Thank you. Hugs, Susan


  9. We think if we stop to rest, everything will fall apart. How true is that! Yet, in Jesus we have such a good example of how to work and also make time to rest and rely on God. Thank you, Abby.


    • Amen, Rachel! Jesus was the ultimate example. Oh, that we would follow him instead of heeding to every pull and tug of those around us. I’m so grateful his Spirit gives us wisdom. Blessings to you today, friend.


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  12. For years I lived in a religion of striving. I never felt “safe” or that I was doing enough. When I finally discovered grace, it was like a miracle. I love the freedom that it brings, and the love that it inspires. Beautiful post, Abby!


    • I’m with you Lisa. When we have that mentality we never feel safe. I truly believe it’s a ploy of the enemy to keep us in captivity. Thanks so much for sharing today. Blessed by you!


  13. Ooh, “But even the fruitful branches are pruned by a loving God. He takes away the excess so we can put more energy into what He gives us.” <—- Love that insight. ~ Thanks for sharing, Abby. ((hug))


  14. I’m just going to pause a minute and let this sink in. “Does someone who is bone-dry and weary communicate a message of hope and glory?” I was absolutely there in the spring and took a few months away from my responsibilities to prioritize my family once again. God has brought peace to our home through that decision, and yes, the earth still rotated;) I’ll be passing this along…thanks so much, Abby, and have an awesome week!


    • Meg, you blessed me so much with this sweet comment today and made me smile. I’m so glad to hear the world kept spinning when you took a break! 😉 It is so important to maintain balance and gives our families the attention they need. How easily I forget sometimes. Thanks so much for being here today. (hugs)


  15. Very well said and so true, Abby! I see churches with burned out and worn out people so much these days. I think it can also happen as a result of getting caught up in saying yes to every request from every ministry that asks us and forgetting that we are to have ourselves centered on Christ first of all and then to have time in community where we are nourished and after that ministry. We too often get it backwards. Good words today!


      • It takes courage we often have a hard time summoning up to learn He hasn’t asked us to fulfill every request that comes our way. (I am definitely speaking from experience here after many years in church, church ministry, and serving on two different church staffs.)


  16. I know this race well, Abby and truly it breaks my heart when I see it play out in the church. The idea that our gifts must be laid down as some offering and sacrifice for anything other than the glory of God. I’ve seen so many women walk away feeling wrung dry, rather than refreshed. I’m so glad that grace stands alone – that we can’t wreck it with our efforts. Thanks for the reminder to simply rest in it today. xoxo


  17. Abby,
    This is so good and so true: “God gave me his Spirit to bring wisdom, peace and discernment, not a slavery of endless striving. It is for freedom that he set us free.” Great reminder of what grace really means 🙂


  18. Grace alone. Amen. This is so true, Abby. I love this, especially this line – “He chooses to use me and has beautiful plans for my life, not because he needs me, but because he loves me enough to include me in the grand tapestry he is weaving.” Such a beautiful, comforting truth. Thank you.


  19. Abby,
    Amen!! May we all simply stop and lay it all down before Him. Then soak in His grace, allowing our lives to be governed by Him rather than our over-the-top mind-blowing striving! Thank you for the blessing today!! And thank you for hosting the link-up this week!!
    Blessings and smiles,


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  21. Ah yes… I am so thankful that we are called to cease from striving and simply receive. But it goes even further than that… we are called to extend grace – for free… just as it was extended to us! In my flesh, I want it for free for me… but some people I want to have to earn it! Not all people… and not often… but oh my, when that rises up within me, it breaks my heart and pulls me to my knees! Freely we have received, now freely (dang it!) we give! 😉 GREAT post, Abby!


  22. Abby, Grace is such a beautiful unmerited gift. I love this verse: “It is by grace through faith that you have been saved, it is not your own doing, but a gift of God.” My 31 Days series is going to be all about grace: 31 Stories of God’s grace.


  23. Your words resonate deeply withing me Abby. I have been striving, trying to earn grace, and God has been leading me to just be, and to love and accept myself as I am. And to truly understand that I am forgiven. Thank you for this post!


  24. This resonated deep for me.I am singing the song, In Christ Alone at my women’s Bible study tomorrow. One of the lines in the first verse is, “When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.” Hmmm,I think the Lord is telling me something! Thanks for your beautifully written post. God bless!


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