One of the must frustrating times for parents of young children can be room-cleaning time. When my children were young, sometimes, they would go in and clean their rooms right away and everything was great. Then there were days when I would send them to clean their rooms and what should take 15 minutes would take four hours. Or longer. Typically, when they started taking their pretty little time getting their rooms cleaned, I set a time limit. When that time limit passed, they began losing items in their room, typically beginning with the items they would miss the most. For one child that meant a portable DVD player. For the other that meant particular toys. The time limit thing was hit or miss depending on the day. Sometimes, they didn't care until I actually took the item away. Sometimes, they realized Daddy was serious and got to work. On those days when they had messed around but finally get busy I always watched for opportunities to help them meet the time limit. I didn't want to take their things away if they worked with me. So occasionally, when they were really close to getting it done but they weren't going to make it, I would go in and help them finish in time. I made sure they knew 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 had messed around for hours 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 God's 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.