Sebastian’s Lesson on Grace
Sebastian was an Old English Sheep Dog rescued from the pound. He was extremely intelligent and he tried to be obedient to our commands. In the beginning, it was obvious his obedience came from fear of punishment. When he was told to do something, he lowered his head and attempted to do it, but there was no light in his eyes.
After months of loving care, Sebastian began to change. He remained the most compliant dog we have ever owned, but he no longer held his head down. When he obeyed, he held his head high. The blank look in his eyes was replaced by a sparkle. It became clear that his greatest joy came from pleasing us. He was no longer responding out of fear. Instead, he was responding out of appreciation for the loving care he received.
Many Christians are like the young Sebastian. All of their lives, they have been beaten up with the threat of God’s judgment. They recognize God’s Law is for their good and attempt to obey it. When they fail, they are fearful of God’s punishment and when they succeed they do not promised, but instead, they live a life of constant fear of punishment for their failures.
Other Christians are more the older Sebastian. They have a better grasp of God’s grace. They understand that all of God’s prohibitions in Scripture were given for our protection and provision. They realize God does want His children to live a life filled with the things He has promised. While they know God does not turn His head on their sin, they accept He is patient with them. They realize they are going to fail along the way, but they also realize God is faithful to forgive their failures if they are faithful to confess them. Instead of using this understanding of God’s grace as a license to sin, they use it as a motivation to do the right things. Their understanding of God’s grace motivates them to have a deep desire to be pleasing in His sight. In response to His grace, they desire to serve Him out of a spirit of appreciation and not out of a spirit of fear. They learn the joy of service motivated by appreciation and their lives are richly blessed.