The Beauty of Grace

Gwen Smith Blog 6 Comments

Every time I tell my redemption story, I have to swallow my pride. Why? Because my past includes ugliness, conflict, and rebellion that I’m not proud of. As much as I’d like to sweep it all under the rug the Lord wants me to share. Why? Because the brokenness of my past magnifies the beauty of His grace.

The New Testament begins with the book of Matthew and a lineage that showcases more drama than a Hallmark movie. The book starts with a genealogy trail that leads from Abraham to the birth of Jesus. This list of names might make you yawn, but it’s actually really important – and even exciting. (Yes. You read that right!)

Scandal steps onto the page in verse three of Matthew chapter one when a woman’s name shows up. (Traditionally, only the names of men appeared in these family lineages.) But this wasn’t just any woman, it’s one from the shady side of the family tree … Tamar.

Tamar had a past, and any Jewish scholar worth their salt would know about it.

She was used and abused by men that should’ve loved, protected, and provided for her. Once scorned, she schemed for revenge and ended up having twins by her father-in-law. One of the twins, Perez, is an ancestor to King David.

As the list goes on, we see a few more eyebrow-raising names…

Rahab’s name is listed.

Remember her?

She was the prostitute who “turned good” when she helped Joshua and the Israelites capture Jericho. Bathsheba’s on the list too, but they don’t even mention her by name. She’s recorded this way, “David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife” (Matthew 1:6). Nice. Archived as the woman who had an affair with King David while she was married to a soldier named Uriah.

All three of these women were known, but not necessarily for cleaned-up good things.

Seeing these women listed among the relatives of Jesus is quite… messy.

You would think historians would want to hide those names, not put them out there for everyone to see. But that’s not God’s way. He doesn’t sweep things under the rug and pretend they aren’t there.

And strangely enough, I’m encouraged by the presence of these women in the lineage of Jesus. Because they are each a powerful display of His grace. They are proof that God doesn’t require perfection from us for His will to be done through us.

The apostle Paul summed it up nicely in his second letter to the church of Corinth. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

So you have a past. So did Tamar, Rahab, and Bathsheba. I do too. We all do.

So you have a few people in your family with rusty reputations. I do too. So did Jesus.

So you have some shame or pain about things that were done to you… things that were or are beyond your control. You’re not alone, friend.

God’s mercy reaches beyond the muck and mire of our pasts to recreate us in the grace and love of Jesus. He lifts fallen heads, purifies rebellious hearts, and places slippery feet on solid ground. He makes us new creations.

Nothing about having a past or complicated associations can keep you from walking out the freedom and hope of Jesus. Behold, the new has come!

It’s time to move forward, friend.

God uses the broken to showcase His beauty.

Believe it.

 

Dear Lord, Thank You for grace… for not holding my past against me… for declaring me a new creation in Christ. Please help me to trust You with my past and with my future.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

FOR YOUR REFLECTION and RESPONSE

Read Isaiah 41:8-14.

What does this passage tell you about God? Where do you sense He is leading you today? Talk to Him. Seek His help, healing, and direction.

 

Love you guys!!
GWEN

Comments 6

  1. Thank you Gwen for always being real! I love your posts and appreciate you taking the time to write them each week!

  2. Someone shared this summation of their life and I made note of it . . . God, I am so unworthy – yet, I am so willing. To this I say, “Amen!”

  3. My past, too, is messy. Very messy. I appreciate the passage you shared. God clearly sees mankind as lowly but deserving of grace. He not only rescued His chosen people, but all of humanity by sending His Son as a living sacrifice! Talk about grace!

    It puts me in mind of the lyrics to “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. The chorus could just as easily be about the grace of God.

    “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
    Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
    And I couldn’t earn it
    I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
    Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God”

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