God both blessed and placed conviction on my heart this morning through a blog written by a sweet gal in South Africa. I encourage you to pop over to her blogsite and read it. (kingintraining.wordpress.com) It was about looking beyond the words and behavior, into the heart of those appearing not to love Jesus.
I’ve tried to maintain that practice in my life and ministry, and have encouraged others to do the same, so I was caught a bit off guard as God focused my attention on one towards whom I have not held such a gracious attitude. We must remember that it took just as much of God’s grace to save us as it will take to save another, no matter how far away from Him they appear to be. We are ALL helpless sinners in need of God’s grace, for our salvation, and for forgiveness for our daily failings. . . In my case today, for my lack of forgiveness and on-going judgmental attitude towards this individual. Isn’t it sad, how quickly we can zero in on the faults of others as we pass over our own? That’s a diversion tool of the enemy, for sure. We don’t like to be confronted with our own sin. We know about the wrath and justice of God. R C Sproul has said, “Helpless sinners can survive only by grace. Our strength is futile in itself; we are spiritually impotent without the assistance of a merciful God. We may dislike giving our attention to God’s wrath and justice, but until we incline ourselves to these aspects of God’s nature, we will never appreciate what has been wrought for us by grace. . . The hands of God are gracious hands. They alone have the power to rescue us from certain destruction.” ALL of us. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
If we took the time we spend contemplating our neighbor’s faults, and their walk with the Lord (or lack of), and instead, spent it in Spirit-led, soul-searching, self-evaluation, what wonderful changes might He bring about in each of us? “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) Perhaps our hearts would then be open to encourage instead of instead of disparage, seeing beyond the actions and words to the heart of the matter. That’s where life-changing ministry will happen.
There’s a phrase that’s used frequently when one observes another’s adversity, misfortune, or perhaps a blatant “fall from grace.” I’ve sometimes heard it used with an air of feigned piety and humility. “There but for the grace of God, go I.” How I dislike that phrase. Do you know why? What does it say about grace? It seems to say that God’s grace is available to me, but apparently not for that person. Is God’s grace not His unmerited favor? Perhaps He intends for His grace to be poured out to them through you and me, His vessels. Perhaps He intends for us to encourage them in their adversity, assist them in their misfortune, and share His grace with the one who’s fallen into sin.
“See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” (Hebrews 12:15) “… We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Let’s remember that we are the vessels through whom His grace may flow. Are you ready to pour it out?
May it be so in me, Lord Jesus, may it be so. That’s the view from here . . .