“Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power.”

art by Yongsung Kim

You know the story of The Giving Tree? I don’t love it. (If you do—that is fine! Many people do! But you probably won’t like this post haha.)

In the story, the tree gives her apples, then her branches, then her trunk to a boy she loves until she is just a stump.

I’ve sometimes heard God described like the tree, and in some ways He is similar. 

True, He loves us infinitely.

True, He is willing to give even His son for us.

He is a giving God.

But unlike the tree that changed for the boy, God cannot be changed. 

The end goal is for US to be changed. 

God is not permissive. 

His expectations and demands are high because His hopes for us are high. 

Nahum 1:7 states, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble.”

The Lord is good BECAUSE He is a stronghold. And a stronghold is only powerful because of its firm, unchanging boundaries.

Because He loves us and wants to help us progress, He creates expectations and boundaries. 

And then, He provides Grace so we can always return if we find ourself on the wrong side of His strong hold. 

“Grace is not the absence of God’s high expectations. Grace is the presence of God’s power.” Brad Wilcox

God is …

Grace AND expectations

Understanding AND unchanging 

Concern AND consequences. 

Justice AND mercy.

On Instagram, we many times only see God described on the first side of this scale.

But God is good—not despite being both, but because He is both. 


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