There are so many "christiany" terms that get thrown around the church going community that we've developed our own language. Sadly, our definitions have become so varied that you can't use a word anymore without dissecting the meaning even among ourselves. It has to be worse for those around us who are listening to us chatter and even argue. I hate the arguing.
Someone asked me recently what to do about someone choosing continual sin. I said "Offer grace". Their reply was a quote from Romans 6:1 "Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" Paul answers himself and says "Of course not!" He goes on to say that if someone truly died to sin they cannot continue living in it. I think that is the key. Knowing the heart of the person asking, she ached for this person to have healing in her life, not judgement. The problem is, when we ourselves try to decide who deserves grace, that in itself is judgement. In the end, none of us deserve grace, that is why the gift is so precious.
Grace has been a common topic for me lately, I know but I can't shake it. It is where God is working on me right now. It is where he is helping me peel away the layers that prevent healing. The hurts that I hold on to become the barrier to forgiveness. The forgiveness given and the forgiveness received. Without forgiveness, there can't be love and love is the greatest commandment.
How did we get here? How did we get to the point where we feel free to judge each other? In Romans 1, when Paul is listing off those things that Christians avoid if they are truly abiding in Christ, he follows up in the next chapter, telling us not to judge. That doesn't stop us though. We judge, we wrestle and we punish. We set forth discipline with our words and actions. We cut people off and we withhold love. We call for repentance but seem to forget, what Paul tells us in Romans 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?".
Oh my goodness. I was so the "if you are going to live under this roof" kind of parent. I cringe when I think about it. I'm not even talking about blatant sin, I'm telling you that the "doubtful things" that Paul tells us about in Romans 14 were enough for me to make rules about. We do that though, don't we? We make rules for people in order for them to earn grace and forgiveness. How is that even okay? Grace by its own definition can't be earned. If it is truly grace, it is given when it isn't deserved.
To share His goodness we have to receive it as a gift. The more we try to earn it the more we scan the room for others to be earning it too. We become the brother of the prodigal who stays home doing the right thing and becoming bitter when his father not only receives his brother but he throws an outrageous party! I love the response of the father in, ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’"
This is when grace should pour through us and where the beauty of forgiveness breathes life. All we need to do is be that clean vessel. We don't have to agree with where are brother has been or even where they are going. We just need to be that living breathing safe place for the tired, broken and hungry. There is beauty in being reborn.
Do you want joy? Be a conduit of grace, be a woman of mercy and be a saint who freely forgives. If we are emptied of ourselves but filled with His Spirit and His Word, grace will begin to flow and bring hope to a lost generation.