Relationship struggles are high on the list of common reasons that people seek biblical counseling. Whether it is a marriage problem, parenting dilemma, betrayal issue, or some other unhealthy and unbiblical approach to our relationships, we are all in occasional need of biblical mind-renewal where our relationships are concerned.
In Everyday Grace: Infusing All Your Relationships with The Love of Jesus, author Jessica Thompson presents a biblical way of handling our relationships. She utilizes both teaching and relatable stories to show us that sin is the problem in our relationship struggles and that God’s grace is the solution we are looking for. Jessica is humble, transparent, and winsome as she draws us into the concept of graciousness as the key to how we respond to and treat one another.
Not a List
In any given bookstore that sells Christian books, you will find plenty of “self-help” books that offer all manner of tips and lists for ways to improve our relationships. This book does not fall into the “self-help” category. Jessica does not offer us a step-by-step list or method for change. Instead, she offers good news for our relationships that is only found in the gospel:
“My hope is that while we journey together through this book, you will find that our Savior’s love is the only thing that can change the way you relate to others” (p. 25).
This book is theologically rich and practical. Jessica takes us on a journey that looks at various types of relationships (spouse, parent, friend, churchgoer, worker, family member) and shows us what the Bible says about our roles in these relationships. She then weaves in teaching for us to apply in a practical way. For example, in a discussion about our relationships with our children, she begins with the concept of God as our Father. And in a discussion about our relationships with friends, she begins with the concept of Jesus as our Friend:
“God initiates friendship with His people. Read that sentence again. It should absolutely blow your mind. God initiates friendship. God call us (the church, the offspring of Abraham) His friend in Isaiah 41:8-10” (p. 73).
Because of God’s friendship, she says, “He gives us confidence to love others” (p. 73).
A variety of practical applications of theological truths make this book much more than a list of steps or self-help tips. Instead, we are given a biblical guide that focuses on God’s grace rather than man-centered methods. Everyday Grace offers a better way than steps and lists to respond to and heal our relationships. The gospel is the better way.
Throughout the book, Jessica does an excellent job of showing us how to practically handle our relationships in light of the finished work of Christ rather than our own weak efforts. She minces no words when she reminds us that we all enter into relationships as sinners:
“…the point of this book is not to give you a push in the right direction. We need more than a push. We need to be made alive. We are not basically good people who need a little instruction so that we can live up to our full potential. We are completely sinful people who need help from outside of ourselves in order to be made alive” (p. 39).
She also reminds us that God is gracious to sinners:
“Repentance is a good thing as long as you remember that every way you have failed to love has been paid for by Jesus Christ. He took those wages of sin upon Himself. He paid the penalty for our sin. He paid for every selfish act, every unloving glance, every angry moment, when He died on the cross for our sins” (p. 41).
The gospel is intentionally woven into every chapter of Everyday Grace, showing us that it is because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us that we can then sacrificially love others. Jessica believes that “our focus needs to be in our primary relationship, instead of our secondary relationships” (p. 41). This is a short but profound statement in light of our daily involvement with people who need grace as we reflect Jesus to them.
A Practical Resource
Friends, counselors, parents, churchgoers, and all of us can benefit from the theology and practical guidance given in Everyday Grace. For those who need to be reminded (or taught for the first time) that the gospel not only saves, but also applies to our sanctification, this book is a helpful read. This book would be useful for counseling or mentoring individuals, as a small-group study, or for our own personal growth.
I plan to use it as homework reading for my counselees who struggle with relationship difficulties because this book is first and foremost about the practical application of the gospel. That is a basic component of biblical counseling, and it is helpful to have a book to use as a “tool” for teaching these important concepts.
Everyday Grace is also insightful for counseling students to read as they learn to help others with relationship problems. As I train counselors, I want to expose them to a variety of resources to assist them in their future ministry. Everyday Grace will be an asset to them.
For those who are not in a formal counseling role, the book is also helpful for changing our perspective about our relationships as it points us to God as our loving Father, Jesus as our Brother and Friend, and the Holy Spirit as our Comforter and Helper.
As a counselor, spouse, parent, friend, and churchgoer myself, I am grateful for gospel-centered books that both encourage and instruct. It is exciting to see books written by women that are rich, robust, and relevant rather than light, fluffy, and assuming that women do not study theology. We are in a new season of ministry to women in our churches and counseling centers, and this book will be a solid addition to the resources we utilize. (Men, too, can benefit from this resource!)
Everyday Grace is an easy read, but full of profound Truth. This book would be a great companion to another favorite of mine written by Jessica’s mother, Elyse Fitzpatrick, called Because He Loves Me, which lays a foundation for many of the gospel concepts covered in Jessica’s writing. Their combined wisdom is a gift to the body of Christ. Like mother, like daughter!