Here's a post from a terrific writer, Steve McVey. You may access his blog (which I highly recommend) at http://www.gracewalkministries.blogspot.com/. Have a look!
My wife, Melanie, and I love to sail. Years ago we took classes and were certified to skipper a sailboat. One of the things we learned was to determine our course using a protractor and a chart. One important thing about sailing is that if you plan to go a long way, you’d better be sure you aren’t off course a few degrees when you begin. If you are, you’re going to end up in big trouble later. A few degrees off course in the beginning doesn’t look too serious, but the problem is that, the longer you sail, the further you move away from your intended destination.
It doesn't seem to make a big difference if you’re off course a little when you start, but as you move along your journey, you get further and further away from where you wanted to go. The same is true in our grace walk. When our eyes were opened to the gospel and we began to follow Christ, that wasn’t the finish line, but was the starting point of our journey.
Paul begins all his epistles with the word "grace" because that is where we have to start if we want to end up where our hearts long to be and where our Father has determined to be our destination. If you start your Christian life at the point of grace and you move forward, charting your course by grace, you will move further and further into the waters of abundant living.
If, on the other hand, you start from a place of grace, but you begin to drift toward legalism, you will most certainly end up in a place of frustration and defeat in your life. Many have started well, but drifted away from a grace walk and have found themselves in the troubled waters of legalism.
I actually got lost at sea once because I got off course. We were in the British Virgin Islands and my plan was to go around the tip of Virgin Gorda from one side of the island and stop at a beautiful bay on the other side. It didn't work out that way and for hours and hours we saw no land at all. When I finally spotted land again, I couldn’t figure out where I was because I had completely lost my bearings. Eventually, I made contact with a cruise ship whose captain sent the Coast Guard to rescue us.
I started well, but drifted off course. The same thing has happened to many who follow Jesus. A man at the conference where I spoke this past weekend said to me, "I didn't have to be taught grace when I first trusted Christ. That's how I naturally lived. I had to be taught legalism. Then the things I had done in the beginning because I wanted to became things I should do and that's when it all unraveled."
He's right. It made me think of Paul's words to the Galatians when he said, "You started out well. How has hindered you?" Staying on course with grace must be intentional because the current of religion always pushes against grace. Let us set our course by the love and grace of the Father and be careful not to drift away from Him into a religious lifestyle.
It can't be stated any better than the writer of Hebrews said it: "We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away" (Hebrews 2:1).