Understanding grace was something I did not grasp in my early days with Jesus. So I definitely could not apply grace, if I was not understanding grace.
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers,
knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.
When I was very young in my faith, my Sunday school class was going through a study of the book of James. I remember getting to James 3:1 and the words, “teacher” and “stricter judgment” stopped me in my tracks. This was long before I ever stood in front of anyone and taught anything.
First, let me set the stage to say that I had never once considered being a teacher of any form. When in high school, I made the terrible mistake of taking a speech class as an elective. It was a mistake because I turned into a bundle of nerves and blundering words every time I stood in front of the class and presented a speech. The daughter of a teacher who expected me to always have good grades did not take it well when I brought home a report card with a “D” in my elective, speech class.
Needless to say, I knew when I got out of that class I would never stand and speak in front of anyone again. That day in Sunday school James 3:1 reinforced my already made up mind.
Not Understanding Grace
Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a bit on the dramatic side. I was so shook up over the words of James 3:1 that I stopped the Sunday school class after the teacher read James 3:1 to us. I told the dozen or so other students to, “Write this down, ‘Pat Domangue will never teach.’”
It wasn’t the “teaching” that had me so dogmatic; it was the “stricter judgment.” That day I told my class that I would never teach because I felt my past afforded me a strict enough judgment. Surely I did not need to do anything to receive a stricter judgment so teaching would always be out of the question for me. I did not understand grace.
I had no idea what I was setting myself up for. I had no idea that unspoken rule of “never say never” especially when it comes to anything about serving God. He seems to be attracted to our never’s. God knows that our “never,” can be a great place for Him to receive glory in and through our life.
Fast-forward a few years. God set me in a church where the pastor preached grace and relationship with Jesus. There I learned to receive the grace of Jesus for my past life. Rule following was laid to rest. And I learned to walk with Jesus in relationship, loving and serving Him in obedience based on the love and relationship. Grace did such a fresh work in me that I could do nothing but fall more and more in love with Jesus.
What a great gift! An undeserved clean slate! It still astounds me to think about grace, the greatest gift that only a relationship with Jesus can give a broken, rebellious woman like me. Learning about grace and receiving grace shut down my deep, dogmatic stance to never teach. At some point along the journey, understanding grace actually compelled me to teach as a way of sharing this great gift of grace with others.
For by grace you have been saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.
Understanding Grace and Receiving Grace
Yes, I still hold James 3:1 ever before me as a reminder of the responsibility I carry as a teacher. But as Jeremiah 20:9 states, But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not. Thus I conceded my “never” to God and followed His call to teach His word to women. Teaching in His name, for His honor and glory has become one of my greatest delights in life. God using me to share His great gift of grace lights a fire down in my soul.