Dirty Grace?

Dirty Grace?

Jack Handy isn’t the only one who can have deep thoughts; occasionally I have them too.  Today was one of those days.  Perhaps it was the snow; perhaps it was the sun on the snow; perhaps it was the oatmeal that, finally, proved its self-worth by producing a healthy thought.  But whatever the reason, the snow or the oats, I had a deep thought and felt the need to commemorate it in print.  I hope it takes you beyond surface thinking, too.  If not, perhaps you need to grab a bowl of oatmeal (I recommend peaches and cream) and then read this again.

As I delighted in the snow this morning, I walked along the edge of the woods taking in its beauty.  I have been praying for snow and thought the least I could do, along with a shout out of praise to God for sending it, was to stomp through it.  That seemed like the right thing to do.  So as I walked and visually ate up the scenery around me, my thoughts wandered and wondered at the beauty and Biblical truths that are evident in nature.  Whenever I see snow, I think of grace.  Not a difficult leap.  If we were to do a word association game it would go like this:  you say house, I say shoes; you say carrot, I say cake; you say snow, I say grace.  I think it’s the whiteness and purity of the snow that does it, along with the fact that snow falls over things…all things; pretty things and dirty things, revealed things and hidden things.  Snow covers everything it falls upon, and so too does grace.

So today, while walking and pondering the beauty of snow…and of grace, I wondered if this connection between pure snow and pure grace could be stretched to include dirty snow and dirty grace.  I know that snow can become polluted, but can this be said of grace as well?  Is there such a thing as dirty grace?  And there it was…my deep thought; dirty grace. I decided to test this concept.  I thought about how snow became polluted.   If you’ve ever lived in or travel to the city after a big snow, you’ve seen the piles of snow pushed up along the sidewalks or mounded up in parking lots.  In this state, snow is less than appealing.  Once it’s been scraped and scooped and piled, it’s no longer white…no longer a thing of wonder.  The answer, then, is that snow is sullied when what it covered has been dug up and mixed back in with it.  Now, could this same truth apply to grace?  Grace covers sin as snow covers the ground; if sin is dug up and mixed in with grace, could the result be dirty grace?  Ah…yes…it could.

To the level that my mind…and my stimulating bowl of oatmeal…propelled me, I thought of two ways in which grace may be tarnished.  First, by the digging up of past sins that it has covered.  We know that grace is God’s gift to mankind through His Son; “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  (John 1:1, 14)  We also know that “Christ suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that we might be brought to God” (I Peter 3:18).  So if God has bestowed His grace upon us to cover our sins, once and for all, then why in the world would we try to dig through that grace and uncover those sins?  All we’d accomplish would be the mixing of sin with grace, which would result in dirty grace.

The second way in which grace may be tarnished is by forgetting that grace is meant to be the covering and not the covered.  This truth is displayed when we mistakenly, and unbiblically, think that grace allows us the freedom to sin; when we attempt to place sin over grace.  Apparently this was what some Roman Christians believed because the apostle Paul addressed this mode of thinking when he wrote that where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Rom. 5:20), but then went on to state that this did not give liberty for believers to increase their level of sin in order to increase the depth of God’s grace (Rom. 6:1).  In fact, Paul said this was foolishness, and truly it is.  It’s how snow becomes black; it’s how grace becomes dirty.  Grace fell down to blanket sin; sin should not wipe its feet upon such a covering.

This hymn written by Julia Johnston hits on this truth:

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

Grace, grace, God’s grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!


Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;

What can we do to wash it away?

Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,

Brighter than snow you may be today. 

So, there you have it.  My deep thought for the day as well as some words for the day:  snow, grace, clean, dirty, white, black, mixed, covered.  Just a walk in the snow; just a little reflective thinking; just a small bowl of Quaker’s finest and, whoa-la…a reminder of God’s ability to speak to and through His creation.  Now, if I can just embed these truths into my life and remember that when my mind goes digging up past mistakes and trying to uncover forgiven sins, I’m only polluting God’s restoration; I’m only making dirty His grace.


Side bar…or end bar, since it’s at the bottom and not on the side (deep thought #2)

Being completely beyond the inspiration of my morning’s bowl of oatmeal and having sustained myself for the past thirty minutes on butter mints, my thoughts have quickly spiraled downward from quoting Scripture to quoting Jack Handy.  But, lest you be among the unlearned in your familiarity with Jack Handy quotes, I feel led…nay, compelled…to give you a sampling of them.  May they be for you what they are for me; verbal junk food that leaves me with the inability to eat (read) just one!

  •  If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
  • To me, it’s always a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, “Hey, can you give me a hand?,” you can say, “Sorry, got these sacks.”
  • Maybe in order to understand mankind, we have to look at the word itself: “Mankind.” Basically, it’s made up of two separate words,mank and ind. What do these words mean? It’s a mystery, and that’s why so is mankind. 
  • Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
  • I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you’re having a good idea but it’s just eggs hatching.

Author: Kris Smith

I live in West Tennessee with my husband of nearly 30 years and our two boys, ages 20 and 17. My love is education...specifically Christian education. For the past twenty years, I have served as a teacher and also principal. Now, however, I find myself in a new season...a quieter season...a difficult season. What I have done full throttle for the past two decades, I am no longer doing. As I adapt to this adjustment and seek the path God is clearing for me, I find myself wanting to share what God is teaching me with others. And so, here I am. Listening and learning from the Master Teacher Himself. I hope the lessons He teaches me are applicable to you as well.

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