For example, if I think I find some inconsistencies in my human Bible teacher’s life (who teaches the truth, desires to be conformed to Christ’s image, and where I’ve seen such transformations over the years), or I’m given a simple command (like, put that down and come help me, even if I think what I’m doing is important at the moment) by an authority over me (even more so if I’ve willingly submitted myself to that authority), or I feel my favors to someone have been abused by that person, etc., assuming my perception of the situation is correct (which I need to very carefully and prayerfully consider, perhaps over an extended period of time, that it might not be), I believe God is affording me a gracious opportunity for His graces to be shown forth in
- forbearance and mercifulness (regardless of percentage of fault, and especially in light of Christ’s infinite forbearance and mercy toward me, my sin, my human frailties, my inconsistencies, and my countless abuses of His infinite graces and mercies)
- forgivingness (my forgiving of others, even asking God to forgive them — see Gill on Matt 6:12)
- selflessness, servanthood and sacrifice (especially in light of Christ’s [God Almighty!] infinite condescension to become a selfless servant, even to be sacrificed by His creation!)
- waiting on the Lord (sometimes for years and years and years) in prayer (which, while God works it out, either in me or the other person or both, I’ve helped keep unity and not brought schism)
- belief in God’s sovereign hand
- etc., etc., etc., etc.
But if I find the opposite in myself coming forth, I believe God is yet again affording me a gracious opportunity to see a lack of His spiritual graces in my life; and then, if I desire to be molded in His image, I can bring these wants before Him in repentance and supplication for these graces. Either way, God is glorified in what appears to be a troubling situation by His work in a sinful worm and wretch like me; and while my carnal man fights it and causes me grief, it is mercifully to my benefit that my heart is tried whether I see any evidence of an interest in Christ or not, so I can give diligence to make my calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10) and work out my own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12), which if my heart is not proved, I may lack the Spirit’s fruit and not know it, and then never truly seek it. (As an aside, because of the difficulties with my carnal man and complete lack of spiritual ability in myself, and that God often uses trials and afflictions to teach us, I’ve also recently started to ask God for His help as He’s helping me. 🙂 ) These opportunities are a means of God’s graces.
You just don’t get these kinds of God-given opportunities, certainly alone, but also in the loose-knit “Christianity” of today. There, you can hide; here, you cannot, which, as I’m pointing out, I believe can be a good thing, in bringing about purity and holiness, in individuals and as a group. (As a result too, with examples like the ones from above, if my heart is in order, God might grant me, in His timing, a proper and appropriate opportunity for me to speak with the other person about my perceived issues with him, and I might then find that God has been working on the other person’s heart as well!)
God also uses other means to bestow His graces, in His Word, with teaching, by His ordinances, in singing, in trials and afflictions (as I mentioned), by prayer, etc. — we need to seek Him in these and all of His means, and then we’ll find (Luke 11:9). Part of obtaining God’s graces comes from asking for them, with repentance; and again, you don’t ask for them if you don’t know you need them.
In a world of barrenness, if I find a field with a bearing Tree in it, although the field may be full of weeds, and rocks and crevices and difficulties to get to the Tree, which all seem to make the field worthless, it is my private (personal) judgment that it is worth giving up everything (including my sin and carnal reactions/views, carnal/temporal gains and reputation, etc.) to buy that field to obtain the Treasure that is in it.
It is our prayer here that Christ mold us in His image, and we thank Him for the graces, mercies and grace-filled opportunities He has granted us. May we never slumber as He knocks; may we diligently seek Him and His graces; may we see things as He sees them; like a green olive tree, may we trust in His mercies for ever and wait patiently on His name in the house of God; may we be His light, shining on a hill (a rolling one here in central Texas 🙂 ) for as long here as He wills; may we never do anything to offend Him so as to have the candlestick removed or the face of His presence hidden; and may He see us through, in His faith, all the way of our “progress,” even through Jordan, to the end. Amen.