Mar
30

Wanted: Grace Givers! — Devotional

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I think it is an axiom that we have an attraction to the things we need.

The thirsty man or woman dreams of water.
The hungry man or woman’s imagination can envision that favorite dish.
The imprisoned man or woman fantasizes of freedom.
The abused man or woman yearns for love and security.
The neglected man or woman searched for acceptance.
The degraded man or woman seeks those who give them worth and value.
The rejected man or woman is on a mission to belong somewhere or to someone.

Of course, this attraction may not be consciously recognized. It can be subliminal, a below the surface driving force that affects one’s thoughts and behaviors. Consciously known or not, it is a factor that influences everything else.

Similarly, the whole human race needs grace and I believe the bulk of humanity is attracted to it. Here is my two cents on some things I have learned the hard way.

Most Christians believe in grace for themselves in their time of need.
Most Christians believe in first time grace for someone to be saved from their sins.
Most Christians believe that God is a God of grace and mercy.

Here’s my "However…." However, I have discovered that there is a struggle among some believers to believe that grace and mercy is abundantly available for their struggling Christian brothers and sisters. At least, there is a gulf between saying and showing that you believe it.

My Christian journey has taken me into a lot of different situations. I have been mistreated by lost people to whom I tried to lovingly share Christ. I remembered being cursed out on a city street in Miami, Florida, as I attempted to talk to a man about the love of God. I have been served arrest papers in a foreign country for preaching the Gospel and had to flee the country ahead of the police. I have received written threats of physical harm for my preaching….and so forth. None of this really bothered me, because Jesus told us to expect it and that we would be blessed for it.

Yet, the hurt of being rejected by one’s own brothers and sisters is almost unbearable. In Galatians 6:1, Paul teaches us that when a brother is overtaken in a fault (he stumbles, is caught in a scandal) those who are spiritual are to restore such a one in the spirit of meekness. They are do it with a mindset that reminds them that they, too, can be tempted and fall.

I am speaking about genuine repentance from the stumbling believer. The only thing I find in Scripture that suggests a person cannot be used by the Lord is an unrepentant heart. Mistreating a repentant brother and sister is contrary to the heart of God toward the repentant. All of His invitations in Scripture come with an open door to the repentant heart. Not just a "sorry I got caught" repentance, but a brokenness of heart about the sin. There should be rebuke, correction, and instruction, but all of it flows from a spirit of meekness.

The message the Christian community sends to the local neighborhoods when they shoot their wounded and kick people when they are down is that you have to measure up or there’s no place for you here. I recently had a stumbling brother come to me. He knew I had stumbled and messed up. He shared with me that he did not know where to go for help. If grace and mercy are not available to you as the preacher, then there is no place for me. He was reacting to what he had heard and the attitudes of people who were saying that it was over for me. The effect on him was that he would have to do a better job of hiding his own struggles lest he be rejected.

Please understand I am not trying to harpoon other people because of the gaping wounds in my own side. I fully accept the chastening of the Lord I am receiving, the correction of meek-hearted spiritual leaders that I have submitted to, as well as the reaping of what I have sown. I am, however, in a position to speak to this issue becasuse it is where I am. I am living it out in real time. I also have a concern to see the Church reflect the grace giving and merciful heart of God toward those who desire to come to Him for healing and restoration. Sure it is hard to treat a patient who refuses to go to the doctor. But for those who are willing to sit in the waiting room as long as it takes and take the medicine and treatment prescribed, there should be a place of healing they can go to.

I will never view hurting people the same way again. I thought I was gracious and merciful before, but I have had a literal "crash" course in graceology lately. The great need in the hour in our sin laden culture is an authentic, unpretentious Christianity that does not teach people to put on their religious garb and deny the need in the fallen human heart for grace and mercy. Sure we must not take a light approach to sin. It was our sin that Christ died to save us from. This a far cry from shunning the repentant.

Does it require less grace to overcome a propensity to lie and spread gossip that it does to break an drug dependency issue? Does it take more grace for the man struggling with alcohol than the man who struggles with overeating? Does it take more grace to forgive the person who passes judgement on others than it does for the person struggling with sexual temptation? Is the blood Jesus shed for the public overtly committed sins more necessary than for the sins of the heart attitude?

Of course not! It is our man made religious systems that operate by peer appraisal and the fear of man that cause us to begin categorizing and comparing. This is reflected in the very words we often speak:

Can you believe that…..(implied is "I would never do such a thing!")
It’s over for them. They will never…

The conclusion of our words is a heart level belief that "Your sin is worse than mine!"

We even move the standards beyond what Scripture sets. Here in the Bible belt if someone enjoys a glass of wine with their meal, then they are automatically removed from the list of people that God could really use. Yet, it is apparent in Scripture, that Jesus turned water into wine and basically said, enjoy the wedding. Paul encouraged young Timothy that it would help his stomach problem. Yet, instead of looking for the truth (moderation in all things) we just throw out blanket man-made, unscriptural beliefs that categorize people.

We think beleivers who do not attend on Sunday or Wednesday night are somehow less spiritual. Unfortunately, I have said it and I have heard it numerous times, "Your Wednesday night folks are the truly committed people." Could it be wrong that some people actually choose to spend time with their own family on Sunday nights? Where do these unwritten rules come from that so influence our behaviors and beliefs. I challenge them! I have already lost everything that man could give me. I choose to be a voice to say what so many think and are afraid to say.

Interestingly, some of the very same people that used to come to me after a message on the grace of God and encourage me that this is the message so needed in the church, are the same people who now refuse to offer it to me. I find this intriguing. It seems to be a brand of grace that is just for select sinners which means it is really not grace at all. It is grace for the folks we do not know, that we do not have to deal with, that we do not have to personally forgive. I have no use for such grace because there is no freedom in it. I need the grace that comes to me in my failure, my ungodliness, and my immorality and lifts me up forgiven and ready to conquer the thing that conquered me. I do not want the brand of grace that leaves you stranded and branded. I need the kind that makes all things new. The clean start kind of grace. After you have hurt so many people, it takes this kind of grace to survive and move forward. The enemy would like to keep us all depressed and the pit of unusability. I choose to allow God to use the very occasion meant to destroy me to make me truly free and alive.

Honestly, I already am thanking God for teaching me these hard lessons. I brought them into my life by my foolish choices, but He is enriching my life through the fire. I am gaining revelation about the heart of Jesus in a new way. It was religious people that gave Jesus great grief and he was perfect. He chose to invest in those who would receive his radical message of forgiveness based on grace. From henceforth, I will endeavor more than ever, to do the same. I want to be a true grace-giver. I will start by giving it to those who do not want to receive it from me.

I am answering the call to revolution. It’s time for the church to change. I need to change. What do we have to lose other than wrong religious mentalities. What do we have to gain–a whole lot of grace. Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound. It is often in our sin that the deeper discoveries of grace are found. It is the grace that will also enable us not to continue in our sin. True grace will break us free from all the things that bind us. I am excited about what lies ahead! Hurting people are attracted to grace. I encourage you reader–BE A GRACE-GIVER! Jesus was and Jesus is.

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Categories : Devotional

Comments

  1. Adelle Blazo says:

    Thanks for your message, i strongly agree with you my brother, indeed prejudiced and self righteousness are hindrances in our own spirituality. We sometimes see others are the problem in the church but actually the problem is within us. How can we be liberated from being legalistic. Legalism in church ordinances are practically shutting down the grace that  God wants to pour out to us especially those who are weak, and undergoing hard times in their christian walk.
     

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