“Grace is the gift of God’s beneficent presence and activity–that is, the communication of God’s own light, life, and love to those who have neither the right to them nor a claim on God.” -Kevin Vanhoozer, Biblical Authority after Babel
“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.” -John Stott, Christ the Controversialist
“When we had sinned beyond any help in heaven or earth, then thou saidest, lo, I come!” -George Herbert
If you treat people like projects for you to improve, then when they don’t want to participate in that project you will inevitably treat them as a waste of time or you will feel threatened by them–because all you are seeing in them is something that needs fixing.
But the Bible instead calls us simply to love our neighbor as ourselves. This changes the motive to intervene. Our interest in people’s growth becomes selfless because it is based on love, instead of a “need to fix” them. It changes how we intervene.
It means ‘I want to help them, but I love them even without improvement, and I love them even if the pace of improvement is considerably slower or different from what “I” wanted.’
That is giving up control. It re-humanizes people so that we treat them like people and not just ‘projects.’
“however initiated and supported by Grace, [it] is something we must do.” -C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
BTW: This addresses the issue that God enables us to serve him, while also not toning down the fact that we must do it.
Q: Is there a difference between glory and grace for Christians?
“Ans. Yes. But the difference is in degrees, and not otherwise. For heaven must be begun here. If ever we mean to enter into heaven hereafter, we enter into the suburbs here. We must be new creatures here. We are kings here; we are heirs apparent here; we are adopted here; we are regenerate here; we are glorious here, before we be glorious hereafter. Therefore, beloved, we may read our future state in our present. We must not think to come de scelo in cealum, as he saith, out of the filth of sin to heaven, but heaven must be begun here. You see both have the same name, grace, and glory. Therefore, wouldst thou know what thy condition shall be afterwards? Read it in thy present disposition. If there be not a change and a glorious change here, never look for a glorious change hereafter. What is not begun in grace shall never be accomplished in glory. Both grace here and glory hereafter coming under the same name, it forceth this.” Richard Sibbes, Glorious Freedom
“It seems upside down to say that God motivates our obedience by freeing us from law and by declaring that he has no wrath left for us, but it’s true, and true faith embraces it.
To help you understand this principle, let me ask you a few more questions: How do you act when you feel guilty? How do you feel about someone you might have offended? Does your guilt make you love him more? Of course not. When I feel guilty, it isn’t long before I’m comparing my behavior with my accuser’s, feeling angry or self-justifying, or spending hours in self-recrimination and despair. Guilt doesn’t produce love; only grace does that.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick, Comforts from the Cross