While I sincerely appreciate websites and apps that send out a heartwarming Bible verse every day, it’s not just the uplifting Scriptures that draw me closer to God. It’s also the ones that tell me when I’m doing it wrong. My default mode is to coast. It’s far easier to make excuses for myself, to preach but not practice, to self justify, or to simply ignore conviction, than to repent regularly and ask for God’s help. The following 4 verses encourage me in an entirely different way. They show me who I’m not and call me to be a better man. And because of that, they remind me how much I need God’s grace because I can’t do it without Him.
1) 1 Corinthians 9:27
“I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
This is one of the most important verses in the Bible to me. When people talk about this verse, the first half is usually the focus. “I discipline my body and keep it under control…” I imagine it in bold white letters plastered across a solid black tank-top that is draped over the back of a sweaty man beast in the gym as he lifts 200lbs of dead weight. But when I read this verse, the second half is why I’m taken aback. It reminds me how quickly and easily I tend to act hypocritical. “Lest after I preach to others I myself should be disqualified.” This is one of the most sobering and motivating Scriptures for my soul. It is vital (literally) for me to be conscience of the fact that I could be an effective minister of the gospel and still be “disqualified” because I did not live the way I challenged others to live. It is entirely possible to be one of the people of whom Jesus spoke, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not… do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you…’” (Matt. 7:22-23).
2) 1 Timothy 4:12
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
Again, the first half is the most quoted part of this verse. We usually use it to exhort young leaders to be confident in what God has called them to do and don’t let people look down on them because they are young. But the second half says, “But set an example for the believers…” In other words, I have to give others a reason to trust me, not because of my confidence, but because of my character. If people don’t trust me or naturally want to follow me, I have to own it. The only thing keeping me from impacting and influencing others is myself. The problem is, I often set a much better example of selfishness and pride than I do of “love, faith and purity.” So I am reminded how much I need the power of the Holy Spirit to keep me humble, honorable, and authentic in my pursuit to influence others.
3) 1 Peter 3:7
“Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
This verse is a giant pill to swallow, especially in the heat of the moment. It calls me to strive to be “understanding” when she seems to be nothing but frustrating and confusing. It calls me to “honor” her instead of belittling or manipulating. And it reminders me that we are on the same team (“they are heirs with you of the grace of life”). This verse has proved to be a megaphone to my heart again and again, telling me when I’m not listening, loving or cherishing her the way Christ does His Church.
4) Ephesians 6:4
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
There are at least two things that work against me in my parenting: I am an instigator, and I’m impatient. When you have an abundantly curious, easily distracted, and boundary testing toddler, impatience and instigation are not qualities that you often benefit from having. I am called to “discipline and instruct” my child without “provoking” him; to teach him without breaking his little spirit. This has unfortunately been a difficult lesson for me to learn at times. And already, at 2½ years old, I have apologized to him more times than I can count. A nearly identical Scripture is Colossians 3:21, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” I don’t want to provoke my child. And I certainly do not want to discourage him. That isn’t what my Heavenly Father does to me. As a dad, my job is to bless, encourage, teach, love, and be patient. And I desperately need an infusion of God’s grace to do any of those things.
I praise God for these 4 Scriptures. They have been lifelines for me on several occasions, drawing me to repentance, and bringing me back to my Savior. They remind me how much I need Him.
What verse(s) give keep you in need of God’s grace?
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