The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:11-12).
I was just in my 20s when I concluded that I was a failure as a pastor. Every Sunday, I felt like I was just serving up shame and blame to get people to walk the straight and narrow.
I thought I had to intimidate people into obeying God. I confessed to my wife, “I did not become a pastor to hurt people, but I hurt people every Sunday – and I cannot do this anymore.”
But then, the Lord exposed me to the ministry of a man who preached very differently. He specialized in displaying how flawed were all the “heroes” of the Bible – save One. The one true hero – Jesus – everyone else needed.
The perspective saved my ministry and revolutionized my preaching. I realized that, if God could use people as messed up as those in the Bible, then he could still use me. And, I could tell others he still has purpose for them despite their messes.
The grace of God did not release me from obeying God’s calling; it fueled my passion for his purposes. That’s what Paul says God’s grace will do: it trains us to renounce ungodliness. When grace captures our hearts, we love to please the One who loved us and gave himself for us.
Will some take advantage of God’s grace? Of course. But those transformed by his grace love to love him. Grace is the fuel of true godliness.
Father, may the grace Jesus died to give captivate my heart more and more, so that I do what I most love to do: serve you with the passion of profound gratitude for Jesus.