GRACE FROM GOD
" God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."
Grace. What a freeing word-- grace unshackles the heavy laden and brings peace. The feeling of receiving grace is like a deep breath of fresh air that brings rest to the troubled soul.
Grace. It is reserved for the humble. Norm Wakefield once asked-which of us is humble? And he had to answer his own question with none of us! Though we like to entertain the idea that we are naturally humble, and at times we are living in a humbled state, the reality is our natural flesh is not humble at all.
How do we become humble? It takes supernatural intervention. Often through pain, hurt and embarrassment we are humbled-- that we might receive His grace. The very thing our enemy means for our destruction is the very instrument God uses that He might extend grace to us.
Certainly it can be said that life is a series of blessings and curses sent by God. It is good for us to remember Biblical examples of God's sovereignty in trial- examples like Joseph and David.
How much easier it is to forgive others around us when we remember that God is sovereign in every trial.
GRACE FOR OTHERS
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses
surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance
and the sin which so easily entangles us,
and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
This past week my sister Liz and I had the great blessing of visiting with a long time friend whose family had a huge impact on ours. Our three families have chosen to take a very similar path-- one some would consider very conservative. Over the years, our oldest children have somehow transformed into teens and beyond and it was fun to see them all together again playing and serving.
And of course it was a joy for us moms to have the chance to visit and share with one another. One thing we discussed was this topic of grace. Grace in the church and grace in the homeshooling community.
It has been said that homeschoolers are an opinionated bunch. I suppose if we weren't, we probably wouldn't be bucking the system at all, right? But with those strong opinions and convictions comes the need to extend grace to one another. In doing so, we imitate our Heavenly Father.
Our families have certainly gone against the flow-- at times even within the homeschooling community. But that does not mean that we cannot give grace or need grace extended to us.
We discussed that we all tend to make categories in our mind so that we might compare ourselves to another person- we have the clothing category, the media category, the eating or sleeping habits category, the service category, the spending category; maybe even the humility category. Then- in the area that we think we have things all nailed down we tend to compare ourselves to others and "rank" others.
Of course we only compare those areas in which we think we might come out on top- we are far too self protective do otherwise- then we judge another brother or sister in the Lord by our standards, never noticing that we are guilty of pride.
And so the more liberal brothers and sisters may judge those who are more conservative (they must be legalistic to live by that standard; they must be operating out of fear of man rather than fear of God or they must be judging those of us with a more liberal standard).
And the conservatives may judge those who are more liberal (they are following the world rather than God, they are operating from the flesh and not by the spirit, they are libertines- do you think they are really able to obey God?).
It often goes both ways- each only feeling they are judged- and no one recognizing that both sides deserve the grace to stand or fall before their own Master.
Who are you to judge the servant of another?
To his own master he stands or falls;
and he will stand,
for the Lord is able to make him stand.
And all the while we are distracted by our differences, rather than working together to love and build up as the Lord has commanded.
Of course that does not mean that we should not be discerning or correct one another in gentleness when there is a real sin, but in areas of liberty, we should give others-- well, liberty. And where there is weakness we should be happy to extend gentle grace. We are to be careful of one another- esteeming our brother more highly than ourselves so that neither the more liberal nor the more conservative brother be made to feel ostracized from the family of GOD.
At times it may feel like a difficult balance- standing for righteousness and truth and yet extending liberty and grace to others. But we must be on the alert to do both. We cannot condemn things that receive little if any attention in Scripture and we cannot trample on others that have a weaker conscience. Because no man lives unto himself- it's not just about me and Jesus. The church is a community- a royal priesthood; a holy nation. You cannot be a nation on your own. ;)
Let us be a people known for our grace.
As we live and work with others within the church let us assume the best of our brother or sister- that they are seeking to live for and serve the Lord. We must let the standards of Scripture convict our own hearts. We must have Scripture to back everything we choose and be fully convinced in our own minds, but we must not compare ourselves to others or rank others who are more liberal OR more conservative.
The wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere.
Grace, grace and more grace to you!
A wonderfully busy summer included a bit of time away in Monterey to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.