This quote is creditted to a man by the name ofJohn Bradford , a Protestant who was martyred in England in the 16th century.
On seeingseveral criminals being led into the scaffold he remarked, ‘there but for the grace of God’ goes John Bradford. His words without his name are still very common today.
I originally heard this phrase as a response to learning of someone else’s mistake or sin. It carried the message, “Take care not to point fingers or judge; you have your own struggles with imperfection and sin.”
John Bradford, however, was expressing gratitude for another day alive and the understanding that God was having mercy on him.
It seems that we could apply this both ways in our modern world:
It is true that we need God’s grace to live holy lives.
It is also true that we do well not to judge others or look on their circumstances without compassion and mercy.
What happens to one group of people can happen to another.
I am thinking of the ban on people from countries that are largely Muslim who want to travel to the United States. Brothers and sisters, the Bible says that we will face persecution. We are as vulnerable as Muslims, Iraqis, Sudanese, Syrians and all of the other people who are being denied entry, or even detained. That is why we must stand with them in resisting this injustice.
“There but for the grace of God go I.” Next time, it could be Christians.
“We love because God first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 (CEB)
One of the lessons I seem to be learning on a much deeper level is that God’s love for me is primary. I can’t even know myself until I accept this love.
In his book, “Glimpses Into a Love Beyond Words,” Danny Randall says:
“True humility is accepting the opinion of God concerning yourself, no matter how difficult you find it to believe.”
“Allow Jesus’ love for you to be your main focus. Quit trying to be good enough for Himand simply let Him love you exactly as you are right now. Those who boast in how much they love God and how committed they are to Him are often the ones who fall flat on their faces.” (chapter 14)
Somehow, we get this idea that we must do in order to be loved and accepted by god. This lie is as old as Satan tempting Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. We were never intended or designed to work for our position in God; our relationship with Him has never had to do with “being good” – He already declared us so when He made us. His plan has always been that He loves us and we love Him back.
As a matter of fact, the Bible makes a foundational point from two different directions:
“Apart from God you can do nothing.” (John 15:5b)
“I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
I often say that we can’t pour water from an empty pitcher.
The only way to love God, ourselves and others is to be filled by Him first.
Relax, drink up, enjoy!