(August 2, 2015)
There are certain concepts that tend to be difficult to understand because they are not on the poles of a situation but rather a perfect balance. It is (usually) easy to identify the right and wrong of some major sins (like murder) because right is way over on one side and wrong is way over on the other.
The tension between Grace and works, on the other hand, does not lend itself to such a consideration. Go too far in one direction, and you are idolizing dead works as if they had the power to save. Go too far in the other, and you find yourself excusing sin under a false theory of Grace.
The truth is found in the middle, and finding the exact location of that truth can be difficult. The only ways that I have found to understand it is through analogies. For example, when a father teaches a child to walk, the child’s efforts are absolutely essential (because the father is more concerned about the child gaining knowledge than about the child covering distance). But despite those efforts, the child ultimately cannot do it on his own without the father holding his hands and keeping him from falling.
Likewise, the Lord is less concerned about us, say, doing our home teaching than He is about us becoming the type of people that will home teach. And so, as we stumble, He holds our hands though His Grace. We are expected to do our part, insufficient though that is. Meanwhile everything that is actually accomplished is accomplished because of His intervention.