Grace is quite possibly one of the most underestimated aspects of kingdom living. It is understood to be unmerited favor and undeserved kindness however, it’s power goes beyond that.  In order to work, grace must be extended to self, it must be unattached to being deserved or not, and it must be free of appearance.  To become is a beautiful gift that releases life into the soul and in the process what matters most is made tangible.  Life and freedom and purpose flow out of grace released by faith.  Grace is ours for greatness.

Faith is key in the process of receiving grace as it takes believing in one greater than oneself for grace (as defined as unmerited favor) to have meaning.  In Hebrews 11:1 faith is defined as ‘confidence in what is hoped for’, and a reflection of moving forward in confidence is what we define as works.  Great good works flow out of the confidence to live an actualized life free from fear based manipulation.

GRACE + FAITH = WORKS BY ACTUALIZATION

According the Everett Shostrom [2]”The actualizer is able honestly to BE his feelings, whatever they may be.  He is characterized by candidness, expression, and genuinely being himself [2] whereas a manipulator uses tricks, techniques, and maneuvers.”

The actualized person is full of grace.  The energy wasted by a manipulator is saved by the actualizer and put into the process of becoming.  The manipulator is constantly afraid of being found a fake, or worse, for others to discover self-serving motives and see through their apparent goodness.  The actualizer has nothing to fear because nothing has been concealed.  His or her extension of grace towards self creates the freedom to fail or succeed without ego taking a hit.

There is a precious balance between works and grace.  It is so easy to fall into “I get what I deserve” mindsets as this is the normal rule we all learn to live by.  In no way do I contest that we need to live responsibly and manage ourselves and our resources well and in fact, I see it as necessary, but as a foundation and not a destination.  To rise above the limitations of the earthly realm and begin to really live in the realm of the Kingdom of Heaven, certain over-riding truths need to be understood well enough to co-operate with them.  Just like understanding gravity has enabled us to rise above its limitations, works are very much like the base that we need to understand and co-operate with.  It is grace that enables us to fly despite natural limitations that would keep us from greatness.  Faith is needed in order to put this to use.

I heard about this concept several years ago when I listened to a message by John Bevere saying that grace is not only favor, but imparted ability given in order to accomplish kingdom purposes.  His words revived hopeless places in my heart; things I saw the end of but didn’t know how to begin.  Honestly, what I had to work with looked so hopeless it just made me sick.  It began to dawn on me that what I was experiencing were the handcuffs of pride and comparison.  I chose hope.

Laying down all self-respect and lofty goals, I found a humble route that presented itself and began to sing once a week with 5 others.

Finally, I didn’t care if my voice measured up to my dreams and aspirations.  The aspirations didn’t matter anymore, AND NEITHER DID ANYONE’S OPINION.  What did matter is that I finally had a place utilize my passion and no one around to make me feel dumb.  I just simply sang.

After about a year, I decided to utilize some techniques I had stumbled upon and shortly thereafter my first dream of having vibrato took place!  The exercises worked, but they wouldn’t have if I hadn’t tried them.  Point being that working worked but faster than normal.  A year after that, I realized I only had one kind of vibrato and there are two sounds (the second one being the resonance created from proper positioning of muscles in the throat and mouth).  This time I had a friend who was willing to give me a little voice lesson, and after about 20 minutes including an interruption or two from sad kids, she taught me several key components that unlocked my ability further.  Now I’m solidifying what I learned, but I have a ‘new’ voice and I don’t sound strange anymore.

Two learning moments happened and skill grew quickly.  Contrast that with the 4 years I took voice lessons and didn’t see nearly the same results.  The new abilities felt like giftedness and the only difference for me was that striving ceased and rest increased.

This is what I call favor.  This is what I call grace.

Step out to do what matters to your heart.  Choose not to care about comparison but to enjoy what you already have.  Grow when you see the need.  This is shame-free living.  Shame…pride…they are friends, but not my friends and I couldn’t be happier.

Actualization [1] which is “to be functioning more fully than the average person and living an enriched life by using all the potentials available to him” is the absence of the need to protect oneself and one of the major dangers we have to protect ourselves against is our own opinion.  Grace frees us from being frozen self critics.

Grace protects identity.

Grace transforms ability.

It puts faith where it belongs and creates new opportunities to be actualized.  Grace enables us to become all we can be without pride and shame weighing in.  Grace empowers and removes restrictions that aren’t valid.  Self-given grace strengthens purpose and allows us to delight in who we are today instead of focusing on how far it is until we arrive.  When we also receive it from God, it is accompanied by power to accomplish His will and possibly acceleration toward this end.  By grace, we can access ALL WE NEED for LIFE.

[1]Shostrom Everett L.  Man, the Manipulator.  Nashville TN, Abingdon Press. Pg 22. 1968

[2]Shostrom Everett L. Man, the Manipulator.  Nashville TN, Abingdon Press. Pg 23. Pg 24. 1968