Grace for the Graceless

To speak the truth in love has been the clarion call to followers of Christ of late. Paul tells us that rather than chasing after every new teaching, we are to let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Ephesians 5:15 (AMP)

Learning to deal with situations some have not faced before, Christians are grappling with what it looks like to be Jesus to the world around them.

How do we let our lives lovingly express truth?

In this current age of more strongly emphasized grace, we as a Church are struggling harder to

accept the unacceptable,

love the unlovable,

offer grace not condemnation,

give more than we receive

and to Tweet be light in a world that pictures God as a Judge with a gavel more than a Savior with a call.

People are moving out of comfortable middle-class neighborhoods to reach others less fortunate. Families are adopting children who would otherwise not find a home. The culture of grace is demanding that we take a look at our own sin before we stick up our noses at the sins of others.

We remind ourselves to pass along God’s grace, knowing that

Rahab the harlot is in the line of Christ,

David the adulterer was a man after God’s own heart,

Mary Magdalene was one of the closest friends of Jesus,

Jesus called a tax-collector to be His follower,

Our Savior touched the untouchable

and He dined with those rejected by the religious rulers of the day.

God is a wonderful, magnificent, loving God of inexplicable grace, calling the worst of sinners to repentance, washing all who receive Him in the blood of Jesus, pure and holy in His eyes.

All.

God so loved the world.

His grace is amazing.

However…

As we learn to offer the grace we have been given to those we have previously ignored, we often wind up

judging the legalistic,nograce

showing bigotry to the racists,

being intolerant of the intolerant,

loving all but those who refuse to love

and offering grace to all but those who do not offer grace.

In the midst of our praise and acceptance of grace, we must remind ourselves that

one of the greatest verses of salvation was taught to a pharisee named Nicodemus.

Most of the New Testament was written by a bigoted legalist.

Jesus taught His best parables to the rule-following, judgmental pharisees and Sadducees.

And He felt great compassion for the rich young ruler who would not give.

God so loved the world.yesgrace

He loved them anyway.

His grace is offered to everyone.

Not just the tax collectors but those who look down their noses at those who don’t pay.

He showed compassion not only to the unclean woman but to the rich young ruler.

He died for the thief on the cross beside Him and for the pharisees who had Him hung there.

What does unlovable look like for you?

Is it the poor urban child who desperately needs a home. Or is it the wealthy person in the better part of town who desperately needs to know the need of a Savior?

As we follow the call to love the gay couple next door, we must also follow the call to love the people down the street who shuts the door in their faces.

When we try to become a Good Samaritan, learning to sacrifice and show love to the man in the ditch in need of help, do we love or hate the one who crossed the road to the other side?

What is it that makes us turn up our noses in arrogance? Am I in danger of being proud of my humility?

Love unfeigned

Tweet Self-righteous or confessed sinner – all are in need of a Savior.

Can I freely offer the grace for which He so dearly paid?

Tweet The more I reflect on how much He pulled me out of, the less I am able to point a finger at people where they are.

Street corner or amen corner.

Love without hypocrisy. Even the hypocrites.

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20)

For everyone.

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The balance of grace

BeFunky_rocks_on_balance_0.jpg
Grace has a hard balance for me to maintain.

Just when I feel I’m doing a good job with extending it in one direction, God taps me on the shoulder and reminds me of another area. I’ve totally accepted His loving grace to all but sometimes tend to withhold mine from others. Ugly, huh. (Did I just lose the small handful of readers who have kindly ventured forth?)

A friend just offered the question: Why do we want to extend grace to the imperfect and find it hard to offer it to the seemingly perfect? Sigh. She nailed it.

It seems there is always a balance to be thrown off kilter. We’re always taught to love the unlovable. Why is that easier than loving the ones everybody loves?

My daughter just graduated from a school where the vast majority of students come from very comfortable homes. Very. Several years ago, I had a real inward struggle with one of the moms. I don’t know why except that it was whispers from the enemy. She’d never done anything to me. Her kids had never done anything to our daughter. But a nasty little feeling of ill will had crept in and God convicted me big time.

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:1-3)

Ouch! Let me tell you, in the Bible, malice is linked with some pretty yucky sins.

So I prayed about it. And about her.

And God freed my heart.BeFunky_love-nature-beach-sea-heart-sand-free-hd-165409.jpg

I began to see some things I hadn’t seen before. I noticed that her face seemed a bit stretched – and I don’t mean by plastic surgery, but with some inner pain – and I prayed some more. I began to notice areas in which she’d shown bravery and courage, ways she loved her children and how she showed generosity. And as God gave me grace toward her, He also gave me grace toward at least one particular “seemingly perfect” group of people.

I have “tasted that the Lord is gracious.”

You see, God’s grace isn’t just freeing when we accept it for ourselves. It brings freedom when we extend it toward others. No matter who they are.freegraceFotoFlexer_Photo

So much for my desire to not write a personal blog and to stick to a devotional one. But there it is. My reminder to myself to continue to pray:

Please Lord, today help me to be grace-full.

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