One of the must frustrating times as a parent of young children is room-cleaning time. Sometimes, my kids go in and clean their rooms right away and everything is great. Then there are days when I send them to clean their rooms and what should take 15 minutes takes four hours. Typically, when they start taking their pretty little time getting their rooms cleaned, I set a time limit. When that time limit passes, they begin losing items in their room, typically beginning with the items they will miss the most. For one child that means a portable DVD player. For the other that means particular toys. The time limit thing is hit or miss depending on the day. Sometimes, they don't care until I actually take the item away. Sometimes, they realize Daddy is serious and get to work. On those days when they have messed around but finally get busy I always watch for opportunities to help them meet the time limit. I don't want to take their things away if they work with me. So occasionally, when they are really close to getting it done but they're not going to make it, I will go in and help them finish in time. I make sure they know that they finished because I helped them, because I was extending grace to them.
That same dynamic can be seen in our lives as we try to live like God wants us to. The psalmist expresses it in Psalm 119:17, "Be good to your servant that I may live and obey your word." (NLT) The psalmist's prayer reminds us that our ability to do good is connected to God's grace. We can get ourselves into trouble when we begin to think that the good we do is a symptom of our own righteousness. The reality is that God's grace enables us to do good. God's grace puts us in a position to do good. God's grace moves in us to give us the desire and ability to do good. On our own, we always fall short, just like my kids who have messed around too long instead of cleaning their rooms from the beginning. At those times when we finally want to do good, God steps in and helps us to do things we could never have accomplished without his grace.
Next time you do good for someone, remember that God's grace enabled you to do that good. Thank God for his grace and allow God to extend more of it to you so that you can continue to do good for others.