The great archrival of grace, legalism, is alive and well—whether we recognize the ax swirling around in our hearts or haven’t got a clue. As Tullian Tchividjian has more or less described legalism, it is our “typical natural default mode.” Tullian shares the following mock prayer (author not cited) in the 4th message of his current series on Galatians, “Free at Last”:
Lord, please restore to us the comfort of merit and demerit. Show us that there is at least something we can do, that we can even in a small way keep some small earning power in our own hands. Tell us that in spite of all our nights of losing there will be at least one redeeming card of our own. Lord, let your servants depart in the peace of their proper responsibility. If it is not too much to ask, Lord, send us to bed with a few shreds of self-respect upon which we can congratulate ourselves. But whatever you do, do not tell us about grace. Give us something to do, anything, but spare us the indignity of this indiscriminate acceptance.
To which Tullian adds, “Whew!”
And me too.