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“The Grace List”

Last year for Christmas, one of the things I got from my husband was a book called Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel. (I asked for it directly 🙂 ) I was so excited because even though I hadn’t read it, I knew it would help me in my parenting and end up changing our family.

I was right.

But as I started reading the book, I was trying to figure out how to apply what he wrote about parenting to everyday life.

Then he came out with the Grace List. I love it so much that I’ve put it here. (This was posted originally here on March 4, 2011)


My observation is that us “evangelicals” talk out of both sides of our mouth when it comes to grace. Our track record is that we have a fairly limited view of the grace of God. We’re quick to offer grace to someone looking for salvation and then have grief waiting for them once they’ve handed their life over to Jesus.

Let me speak in very simple terms. I think the average evangelical “gets” grace when it comes to saving grace. But once a person has put their faith in Jesus, we distill what follows down to a checklist of acceptable behavior. This obviously pollutes our relationship with God, but it also pollutes our relationship with the people closest to us.

If we think we’re on a performance basis with God, then we’re going to put our spouse and our children on a performance basis by default. After a while of realizing that they never measure up, the kids (and sometimes even the spouse) figure, “What’s the use?”

This flawed view of a relationship with God is the way of life within so many of our churches. Which may explain why people come to our churches looking for hope but don’t choose to stay connected after they see all of the Pharisaical baggage we add to the mix.

Trust me, I’m a recovering legalist. I was raised in that world.

With this in mind, may I present to you “The Grace List”. It’s a contrast between two ways of relating to God. Take a good look at this list, and then let’s start talking together online. Let’s explore whether or not it describes the prevailing problem that holds back so many Jesus followers from truly dialing in on the power and presence of God.

The Grace List
by Tim Kimmel

The Obedience-based Life vs. The Grace-based Life
You live to impress God vs. You live to trust God
A performance vs. A relationship
A duty vs. A delight
Predictable vs. Fluid
Promotes fear vs. Promotes faith
Creates worry vs. Creates calm
Masked vs. Transparent
Critical Spirit vs. Compassionate Spirit
Sense a lot of guilt vs. Sense a lot of freedom
Inclines you towards pridefulness vs. Inclines you towards humility
Outside-in management vs. Inside-out surrender
For “church” people vs. For everybody
More natural vs. More supernatural
Focuses on being good vs. Focuses on being connected
Lends itself to self-righteousness vs.

Lends itself to organic obedience

One of the worst enemies of grace
is working overtime to be good for wrong reasons.

Please give me your feedback.

  • Does this list accurately contrast the greater relationship problem between a believer and the Lord?
  • Does this list accurately contrast the greater relationship problem between a believer and the people he or she loves (like their spouse or children)? In what ways?
  • Are there any other contrasts that come to your mind?

©2011 Family Matters

Click here for a PDF of The Grace List – Annotated


Isn’t that awesome?!

I think it’s interesting that he mentions “evangelicals” as having this problem of “getting” grace when it comes to salvation and being legalistic after salvation. No, it’s not just a problem in fundamentalism, but at least some evangelicals are willing to admit it. I think it’s human nature to want to put God in a box, and it’s a knee-jerk reaction for some people to want to tell people, “This is what being a Christian looks like,” which usually seems to focus more on what they do rather than who they are in Christ.

I’d love to share more with you about what I’ve been learning since first receiving Grace Based Parenting and hear your thoughts as well.

Have you ever read Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel? If so, how did you first hear about it?



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