Between Grace and Obedience
Last week I received the following quote in my daily Quotemeal from Heartlight.org. I really liked it and immediately copied and pasted it into a draft post for later writing. As I thought about what I would write for today, I was reminded of this quote.
It is not that we keep His commandments first, and that then He loves; but that He loves us, and then we keep His commandments. This is that grace, which is revealed to the humble, but hidden from the proud.
— St. Augustine of Hippo
I found this quote to be a wonderful summation of the Gospel. It is a great reminder that we cannot earn God’s love, we cannot earn salvation. God’s love always was and always will be available to us. His salvation is a gift that we do not deserve, but that our gracious God desires to give.
This quote is also a great reminder of the effect that a deep understanding of God’s abounding love and amazing grace has on the human heart. Such an understanding — sometimes referred to as “heart knowledge” — of God produces in the heart of the believer a profound appreciation for God’s saving grace. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (NIV). This appreciation leads to a desire to show God’s love to others, and loving others is God’s greatest commandment after loving God Himself. Jesus said that these two commandments summed up all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:40.
It is a wonderful thing that God loves us first, because if we needed to keep His commandments before He would love us, we would all be lost. I am thankful that He first loved me, and that He has changed my heart.
The last part of this St. Augustine quote is also important. It is the humble, those who understand their need for a savior, who can understand the truth of God’s grace. But the proud refuse to admit that they cannot be good enough on their own merits. The proud believe that they can earn God’s love but that others who are not as good as them cannot.
Throughout scripture God has expressed His disdain for the proud and His love for the humble. “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs 3:34 (NIV).
God’s grace is available to all, but pride prevents many from accepting His free gift, from even understanding how awesome it is. Humility is the lens through which you will find our Lord’s love.
I don’t know what part prompted it, but sometime during reading this blog, the old hymn “O the bitter shame and sorrow” by Theodore Monod occupied my thoughts. The last line of each verse changes from “All of self and none of Thee” to “Some of self and some of Thee” to “Less of self and more of Thee” and finishes with “None of self and all of Thee”
His grace overrides all and our submission, our obedience, is a response to the amazing grace which He constantly and generously bestows.
Can we do other? Only when we exert our prideful “independence” . . . but our great God gives more grace and brings us back to Himself. What an amazing God!
I have not heard that hymn, but just the parts you quoted, and the progression from “all of self” to “all of Thee”, make me think I would like it very much! Thank you for sharing it. I can see how it fits with this post wonderfully. What an amazing God, indeed! Peace, Linda
O the bitter shame and sorrow
That a time could ever be
When I let the Saviour’s pity
Plead in vain and proudly answered
“All of self and none of Thee!”
Yet He found me; I beheld Him
Bleeding on the accursed tree,
Heard Him pray, ‘Forgive them Father’
And my wistful heart said faintly,
“Some of self, and some of Thee!”
Day by day His tender mercy,
Healing, helping, full and free,
Sweet and strong, and ah! so patient,
Brought me lower, while I whispered,
“Less of self, and more of Thee!”
Higher than the highest heavens,
Deeper than the deepest sea,
Lord, Thy love at last hath conquered,
Grant me now my supplication:
“None of self, and all of Thee!”
Theodore Monod 1836-1921
That brought tears to my eyes! What a wonderful hymn. Thank you for sharing it all with me. Peace, Linda
I loved that last sentence, Linda! And this reminded me about keeping my faith simple. . .keeping it about love. If I am wondering how to respond to someone or what to do . . .love is always the right answer. 🙂
Thank you and God bless you as you keep listening and writing His words for us!
Deb, I had to go back and read the last sentence; forgot what I wrote. 😉 Humility is so important, and love, too! Peace, Linda
Great quote and post. He is the Author and Finisher! Not only does He create the character He composes the story – IF we allow Him to. His graciousness gave us our free will, and our reward is His presence. Praise God.
Free will really is at the core of this, isn’t it? We are free to be humble or proud, and He will honor our decision. Peace, Linda