by Jessica Jurgensmeier
The refrain to the hymn “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” has been ringing in my ears for the past couple weeks. Verses like, “Where sin increased, grace sin increased all the more” (Romans 5:20) have increased in beauty. Even after 16 years of living redeemed, I still can’t help but cringe at my own depravity and absolute need to be rescued from myself. By the grace of God, I am a saint still trapped in this ugly flesh. But what is the immediate reaction of a holy God to our unavoidable failings? Grace.
I am at a beautiful stage in my life right now, courting a godly man whom I respect and trust. Prior to courting Jon, I thought I knew courtship stories well. In my mind they all followed the same outline. A perfectly godly man meets a perfectly godly woman; they fall perfectly in love and remain perfectly holy and pure until the day of their perfect wedding at which they share their perfect first kiss. What I never paid attention to was that these stories always take place in a fallen world and involve fallen people.
Sin in our lives is inevitable, especially in relationships. Can we be honest about our failings in this journey from brother and sister to husband and wife? Has anyone really gotten through it without sinning?
I know I made the mistake of relying too much on my rules to make me holy, rather than relying on grace. It was not any horrible sin by the world’s standards, but instead a gradual conceding in our hearts from the highest path. In not keeping within the boundaries we had set, we made mistakes that hurt me emotionally and clouded both of our minds.
Looking back, could we have attained a greater level of holiness in our relationship? Absolutely. Yet still, we are squarely in the center of our Savior’s grace. Our sin was already in God’s budget! What’s more, my God is a God who works all things for good and that good is making me more like Christ (Romans 8:28-29).
Because we have had to take a step back to examine ourselves, we have greater clarity than ever. Now I know the great extent of Jon’s Christ-like humility. This man takes responsibility for his actions and is committed to dying to himself. I would not yet have gotten to experience Jon’s character in such an intimate way had we not stumbled.
How has your courtship and marriage relationship (or any relationship, for that matter!) been characterized by undeserved grace? Does it not bring you to your knees in tears of thanksgiving? Our God loves us unconditionally! In J.I. Packer’s classic Knowing God, he writes of grace:
Those who have received grace should henceforth give themselves to “good works” and gratitude will move anyone who has truly received grace to do as God requires.
Carefully contrived principles and boundaries are excellent tools to help us navigate the waters of relationships, but let us not be deceived into thinking that they will guide us through every storm that comes our way. God’s grace is the brilliant North Star against the dark sky. His grace is what will bring us through this life and into the next, where the good work in us will finally be complete in Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Jessica is on staff at her church for college ministry and loves nothing more than to encourage her sisters in their faith. Please contact her at jessjjurg(at)gmail(dot)com with any questions or comments.