Over the past two months I and a group of women have been reading the book Humility by CJ Mahaney. What a wonderful book it is and I praise God for the opportunity to read it alongside other godly women. In his book, Mahaney talks about different ways or practices to cultivate humility. One way to cultivate humility that Mahaney focuses on is identifying evidences of grace.
What does this mean–to identify evidences of grace? Identifying evidences of grace means recognizing the signs that God is at work in someone. So, how do we recognize God’s grace in other people’s lives? How can we tell if God is working in someone’s life? By knowing the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
A Caution for the Critic
How do we cultivate humility simply by identifying fruits of the Spirit? Well, what is the opposite of seeing fruit? Seeing faults, sins, etc. or the way I like to put it: being a critic. Mahaney mentions that if we are not actively looking for ways that God is at work in the lives of those around us, but instead are critical of such people, the root of that sin is that we are proud, bitter, and self-righteous. While it is good and important to point out sin, if sin is all we ever see or focus on, well, we have a sin problem of our own.
How would those around you (family, friends, members of your church, etc.) describe you? As a critic or someone who sees and expresses the work of God in others?
I know that I tend to be more of a critic, simply because I think more highly of myself than I ought. Thankfully this is something we can focus on and God can work in and through us!
Mahaney says, “what a joy and privilege it is to discern this activity in the lives of those we love and care for – and to draw their attention to how God is at work in their lives”. Have you ever had someone tell you how they have seen you grow in holiness (or in an area of sin)? Wasn’t that a huge encouragement to your faith? It helps you understand what Paul is saying in Philippians 1:6:
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God is sanctifying each and every one of us until the day of Christ Jesus! Praise God for this good news!
Be An Encourager
In what ways are you seeking to encourage those around you? How are you actively pointing out the work of the Father in their lives? What about your spouse and children? How long has it been since you told them about how you have seen God is working in their life and where you see fruit? If it has been longer than a week, then you probably need to do it again. We should encourage our family and friends often. Prioritize seeing God’s work in others. Not just a “this week” thing, but a consistent focus each and every day really for the rest of your life. It will not only build up those around you, but it will humble you and grow you in holiness. Why is it important that we are speaking to others’ about God’s work in their life? Well, Scripture commands us to! Hebrews says:
brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is,
His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed with pure water,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful;
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another;
and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
Mahaney says in the next chapter, “Since Scripture informs us that God is at work in every soul that has been truly regenerated, we have this joy of bringing to the attention of every Christian in our relational world how we perceive God to be at work in their lives. We get to enter their lives, discern how God is actively present, draw attention to that, and then celebrate it!” The fact that we “get to enter their lives” means we need to know them in order to see God at work in them and encourage them in their walk. How are you involved in the lives of those around you? Do you serve the body of Christ in some capacity? Do you ask others’ about their life? How often do you celebrate growth in holiness with those around you?
Identifying evidences of grace is something I am excited to continue seeking to grow in and seeing God’s power in the lives of those around me. What about you? Do not wait for tomorrow, what can be done today. Start praying that God will soften your heart and open your eyes to seeing His power at hand. Then, start encouraging those around you with how you see them growing! I know it will be a joy to you and to those you are seeking to encourage.
“So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
for it is God who is at work in you,
both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Oh to Him be the praise forever and ever! Amen!