How Grace Brings Purpose to Our Mistakes
There’s a story in the gospels (see John 4) about a woman who met Jesus at a well. She was at this well during the hot part of the day so she could draw water at a time when the others wouldn’t be there. She wanted to avoid them because she lived with shame.
She was a woman who had five failed marriages. The man she lived with was not her husband. She was a mess. Jesus knew all of this and he had a purpose behind what happened next.
The Son of God, grace personified, spoke to this woman and asked her for a drink of water. This took the woman by surprise, for not only was she someone most people avoided but also, she was a Samaritan woman. The man speaking to her was a Jew. In those days, Jews did not speak to Samaritans.
A conversation ensued and Jesus told this woman about the fresh, living water that he could offer her. This water would give endless life and she wouldn’t be thirsty again.
The talk continued- but it was never really about water. That woman’s life was changed when she met Jesus. She found redemption and her shame was erased. Not only that, but many people in her village found grace and redemption that day, as well. Because of this woman’s witness (the people wanted to see for themselves) they listened to Jesus- and they believed. Her past mistakes served a purpose when she found grace.
Have you ever thought about the purpose that your mistakes serve?
I know that I’ve experienced God’s grace throughout my life- but do I still carry shame? Do I allow myself to believe these following words?
“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose, instead of serving shame.” – Mike Rusch
For the sake of discussion, let’s make sure we’re on the same page regarding the definition of shame. Shame, according to Webster, “is a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety.”
Not all mistakes are sinful. Some mistakes are out of our control or are accidental. Any associated shame is misplaced (but still real and painful, nonetheless). God is faithful in these times. He wants to bring healing by erasing the shame- and he wants to bring something beautiful out of the pain.
Other mistakes are not innocent but are a result of sin. The associated shame is warranted. Shame should be felt when we bring dishonor to God. We bring dishonor to God when we sin. That’s why it’s so terrible.
Our purpose is to bring glory to God by serving him. It’s what we were made for. So how can our mistakes serve a purpose other than shame? It’s through grace. Grace means Jesus took our shame for us, through his death on the cross. His death and resurrection mean that shame is no longer warranted. Our sins are forgiven because of Jesus. Jesus didn’t deserve our punishment. He was perfect. We didn’t deserve forgiveness. It was grace.
Shame serves the purpose of bringing us to repentance, so we can turn away from what brings dishonor to God- but we are not to serve shame. We are to serve God alone- and Jesus has made a way for us to do that. To continue on in shame, after we have accepted the grace of God, is a hindrance to what God has for us. God is faithful in all your mistakes. He has a purpose for you. When you live in light of what Jesus has done for you, you are free to fulfill that purpose.
Sometimes mistakes, sin, and shame are hard to separate or to see clearly. Taking a hard, honest look at our lives, using wise Christian counsel and the Bible as guidance, is a necessity. Doing so will help us to recognize wrong thinking and to turn away from those things which do not bring glory to God. We do this out of love for God- not out of an effort to effort to earn his love or to atone for our sins. We already have his love and our sins have already been atoned for.
We bring glory to God by becoming more and more like his son, Jesus. We start to exhibit more of his character when we allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen our understanding of the truth about who we already are in Jesus. We have to stop listening to the enemy, who loves to remind us of our past mistakes and wants to keep us in shame for that which has already been forgiven.
Grace means that our mistakes serve a purpose. God is glorified through our redemption. As the Holy Spirit works in our hearts, we will begin to see evidence of this work, through more “love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).
I thank God for his grace and for the Holy Spirit’s continued work in my life. I pray that if you are feeling shame, that the Holy Spirit will speak to you and show you a better way. Through Jesus, you can turn away from that which brings shame and you can be free to fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
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