Someone has asked me how to respond to someone who doesn’t really care about their life choices because they think God has to love them on account of Grace.
This attitude is, of course, a misapplication of God’s unconditional love. Sadly, it proliferates where teaching on grace abounds. In fact, this attitude is often cited, by those who ascribe to legalistic theology, as a valid reason for avoiding teaching grace. Bad answer.
Just because there are those who will abuse freedom does not mean we should make prisoners of everyone. I call the abuse of the grace teaching a “misapplication” of God’s unconditional love because that is exactly what is happening. We must apply God’s love to our lives correctly, that is to say, in a manner in keeping with His design for us. His design is that grace received becomes grace given. Or another way of putting it is; love received becomes love given. It is counter-intuitive, but we are designed to benefit most from His love when we give it away. His love does not work all it is designed to work within us until we give it away.
All this means that our life choices to co-operate with His love affect our relationship with Him. We cannot pretend we are “good” with Him when we are ignoring His commands to love others. Our choices either increase our experience of His love or decrease them. His love remains the same [this is the message of grace] but our experience of it increases as we choose to act as He designed us to act. This is neither a reward nor a punishment. It is just the way it works in a relationship with a perfect creator. To say that we are thankful for His grace and then to use it as an excuse to ignore His wishes is nonsense. Taking His will seriously and seeking to live it is nothing more than thankfulness, which is the only response of a good heart toward God.
I believe that we who teach grace have an obligation to make it clear to those we teach that grace does not equal ignoring sin. A true experience of grace does not produce lawlessness or a cavalier attitude toward holiness.
On the contrary, grace is the answer to the question, how can I be holy as God is holy?
Only through His grace sought daily within an intimate relationship of love with Him. Go and do likewise.