Mar
30

The Jesus Kind of Grace — Devotional

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I think it is important to put the idea of "grace" into the right framework. After all, as people are want to do, we can redefine grace and think we have it when we don’t. This is the easy way out in life–redefine things to fit our prejudices so that we do not have to be accountable for our hypocrisy.

I did this most recently in a season of life when I was hiding secret sin. In my mind I justified my actions by simply focusing on the good things I was doing. I would frequently repent to God, put the sin out of my mind, and try harder to do good. Inevitably because I had not dealt with the root issues, it sprang back up and the cycle repeated until it all was exposed. Then I was forced to deal with it all and the fallout and consequences. The good thing is that God does work all things together for good to those who love him.

It is much better to deal with things when they are very small in the secret closet with God than to have to deal with it before the whole world. Hear me friend, you do not want to have your sin tried in the court of public opinion.

When Jesus, who had no sin, stood before the court of public opinion, the crowd fueled by their religious leaders begin to cry out "Crucify him!" This is still the case today. The cry to remove someone from the scene is often led by those who are the most "religious." They still work the crowds sharing the juicy gossip hoping to create a fever among the people that will result in the greatest public humiliation possible. For Jesus it was hanging him naked on a cross. Give them some real evidence of guilt and their job is even easier. Jesus did not defend himself. He submitted himself to the greater purposes of God. As a result, the innocent died for the guilty and the righteous for the sinner. Why? So we could be given grace!

What does the grace look like that is available through Jesus and what he did on the cross. Let’s listen to the Apostle Paul for a moment as we eavesdrop on a letter he wrote to one of his young associates named Timothy. There is a verse that gives us a glimpse at the clothes that grace wears when Jesus gives it to us. In referring to his conversion he says,

      And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which
      are in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim. 1:14 NKJV)

We notice first that Paul tells Timothy that when grace came, it came in abundance. It was exceedingly abundant. We might say there was "bunches and bunches" of grace. What does this tell us about Jesus heart? When grace came to Paul, it came to a man who was arresting and overseeing the execution of Christians. In other words, Jesus willingly gives an abundance of grace to a man who was persecuting and even executing his followers. That’s a big heart, isn’t it? It’s the same heart Jesus had when he looked down from the cross and prayed for Father to forgive the ignorant people who were killing him. Talking about wiping the slate clean. Wow! As soon as Paul humbled himself, he was hit by an abundant tidal wave of grace. This shows us God’s true heart.

When grace came, it came with faith and love. Think of a time when you needed grace and it came wearing faith and love. Think of other times when you needed grace, yet there was no one to believe in you and no one extending love to you. When God’s true grace comes, it comes with faith and love. God sees your future, not your past. By giving grace to the repentant, God is saying, I believe in you. I love you. It is the same when we deal with people in grace.

If a person humbles him/herself in repentance and is met with anything other than a grace wearing faith and love, they are meeting a force not sent by God. When God came to the earth seeking out repentant sinners, he came with grace and truth. The people who hung out with Jesus received grace upon grace from him. The body of Christ today has to exude grace as Jesus did or we are not truly being his body. We are being something else of our own works-based making. This causes us to brag about our own spirituality and goodness. It causes us to judge ourselves better than others. It causes us to think too highly of ourselves. The result is that the pride that arises causes God to resist releasing His grace to us. So we find ourselves devoid of thing we most need—the grace of God. We also find ourselves in unbelief about people and having no love for them. I am speaking of a love that manifests itself in a grace response. Anyone can condemn and accuse. The devil gives us all the power we need to do these things. We must have the grace of God to operate like Jesus did.

We can call it standing for holiness when we refuse to extend grace. Jesus was the most holy person who ever lived and he poured grace out on tax collectors, prostitutes, drunkards and the like. So that argument has no Scriptural support. We can call it being sanctified when we shun a brother or sister who has sinned and is repentant. Jesus left the ninety and nine to go find the very one that is shunned by man. Jesus restored Peter after his repeated denials and anointed him to preach the first message on the birthday of the church only 50 days after his denials. Cut it any way you want–there is never an excuse to turn away from helping to restore a repentant person. I say this because I have experienced it personally. I am not bitter. I just want to help bring revelation so another fallen soul will receive the help they need when they need it. Religious arguments can sound convincing but it is truth that sets men and women free.

Let me leave you with a another bit of truth for the road.

Deal with sin forthrightly with God and make yourself accountable to a trustworthy friend. Lean hard into the grace of God. It will always be sufficient and give you what you need to sail through your storm.

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