We often talk about what God’s grace does for us. And, truly, it is abundant.
We talk about how greatly we need it in ministry. And we do.
But have you ever considered if you might be preventing God’s grace from working in your heart? If you might be blocking its flow in your ministry?
Scripture tells us that we can hinder the work of grace. How?
1. Walking in the Flesh
We begin our Christian life humbly seeking God, and we begin ministry hungry for the power of the Holy Spirit.
But over time, we tend to become self-sufficient. And then, without the intense sense of our need for God, we begin allowing “little” sins of the flesh to linger.
It is possible to do even the work of the ministry in the flesh. But as we do, God’s grace is slowly turned from us.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.—Galatians 5:16
But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.—James 4:6
Early in ministry, we have no problem with looking to God in faith, because everything we ever hope to do is obviously out of our reach. But as God begins to bless our efforts and we see some of those early goals reached, we become comfortable without faith. And then we quit believing God can.
Sometimes it’s not unbelief regarding ministry goals, but regarding God’s work in our own lives. We quit believing God can change us.
Unbelief hardens our hearts, making us unable to receive the grace God desires to give.
Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.—Hebrews 3:12–13
3. Negative Speech
That critical remark that seems so insignificant, the gossip masqueraded as a prayer request, the angry, sharp words…they grieve the Holy Spirit and quench the grace of God.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.—Ephesians 4:29–30
By contrast, a person who is full of grace is also full of gracious words.
And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth…—Luke 4:22
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.—Colossians 4:6
It is possible to be in the ministry and harbor bitterness in your heart. It is not possible for God’s grace to continue to freely flow through you when you are holding onto bitterness.
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;—Hebrews 12:15
All four of these hindrances to grace boil down to a common denominator: pride.
- Walking in the flesh is pride because we believe we’re okay without the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Unbelief is pride because we believe ourselves—our fears or intuitions—rather than God.
- Negative speech is pride because we think we’re better than those to whom we direct our criticism or anger.
- Bitterness is pride because we think we are above experiencing suffering.
But the good news is that all four of these have a common cure: humble yourself.
…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God…—1 Peter 5:5–6
Do you need God’s grace? Humble yourself before God, and it’s yours.