Are we keeping people out or letting them in?

th-21How we think about and treat others is a sure sign of whether or not we understand the grace of God.

Grace is undeserved favor. Good things bestowed upon those who don’t deserve it. It’s wonderful to receive, but very difficult to give out. A good sign of whether or not we have received God’s grace in our lives is whether or not we can give it out to others, especially those we don’t like.

How are you doing with that? I’m not doing very well. Grace is easy to give out to those you like, but what about those you don’t like?

Our 15-year-old son, Chandler, has chosen some friends I don’t like. I don’t trust them. They don’t tell me the truth. They placate me, and they don’t respect me. They say one thing to my face and do another thing behind my back. I am far more likely to wish judgment on these kids than grace. Given the fact I don’t like them, they are the truest test of God’s grace in my own life.

Do I lie to God? Do I say one thing to His face and do another thing behind His back? Do I ever placate God — you know, go through the motions of worship without having my heart in it? Have I ever disrespected God by not taking seriously what He has said? And how do I wish to be treated by God over these things? Do I want Him to give me what I deserve, or do I want Him to give me grace? What am I saying? Without the grace of God I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

You can’t insist on others getting what they deserve while escaping it yourself. It just doesn’t work that way, and yet we act on this all the time. Everybody has to pay but me. I get in free.

I am so much like the Pharisees, standing at the gate of heaven with the keys to the kingdom, and not letting anyone in I don’t like.

If I can’t give out grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it, that inevitably says that I believe I do, and the minute I believe I deserve God’s grace is the minute I disqualify myself for it. Grace is undeserved favor, and the most undeserving of all is myself.

At my wife’s suggestion the other day, I got my Bible out and taught these kids I didn’t like from the gospel of John. Suddenly I got a whole different perspective on them. They were interested — curious. The most unlikely asked some really good questions. Suddenly I saw them as not that much different from me.

Here’s how to get around the temptation to judge others: stay amazed at your own salvation. Stay amazed that the God of grace loves you, the most undeserving of all. And not only does He love you, He likes you. And if He likes you, He must like the people you don’t like as well.

Jesus gave His disciples, and us, the keys to the kingdom. Those keys are to unlock doors, not lock them.

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11 Responses to Are we keeping people out or letting them in?

  1. Bill in KCK says:

    I need God’s grace and forgiveness more than anyone reading The Catch or not, because I am the worse sinner that i know because there are lots of things that only God and I know about myself. Yes, some people may be somewhat aware of some of my sins and shortcomings, but only God and I know all of them and Im not really looking forward to facing Him at the Bema. And yet I believe that He has always loved me even before I became a follower of Jesus Christ and probably couldnt love me more now that I belong to Him. Its just soooo amazing and at the same time difficult to understand completely in human experiences.

  2. Eric says:

    Your words have melted this old pharisaical heart. Thanks for your humble openness, thanks for reminding me that Grace is undeserved, and reminding me to listen to my wife, too. Your words brought to mind God’s words to us through Micah, ‘He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?’ AND the words of a man I met at a retreat near Camby, OR. years ago: ‘I want to be a more righteous man, I want to be a Godly man, Teach me to do what I can, To follow closer to You’. Thanks my brother, I still want to try!

  3. Mark Seguin says:

    I’ll like to re-peat & 2nd what my good Catch friend and my dear brother in-the Lord Bill in KCK posted and add to it by ‘saying’ Bill plz don’t feel alone…

  4. Sherri Johnson says:

    I LOVE how you ended your post today. “Jesus gave us the keys to the kingdom – those keys are to unlock doors, not lock them.” What a simple statement but it packs a huge wallop! Thanks.

  5. bobnearseattle says:

    “We are most like beasts when we kill. We are most like men when we judge. We are most like God when we forgive.
    Of all the actions you can carry out, that one is the ultimate class act.
    Freedom and forgiveness both begin with the same letter.”
    ~ from “The Ultimate Class Act” by Chuck Swindoll

    “Today, pay attention to the stories that God shows you. Notice your reactions and your judgment calls. Temper them greatly with mercy. Not only will you glorify God by showing kindness to others, but ultimately, the benefactor of your kindness will be you!”
    ~ from “Judge Mercifully” by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

  6. Leah says:

    I am having such a hard time lately with my boss lying and basically throwing me under the bus. God is faithful and I am dealing with it. My Bible study group said I need to forgive and I shot back I’m not ready to do that. My boss has no remorse, it was deliberate and the harder part is she is ordained – or used to be. I understand God’s grace as I have been granted it over and over. I know I have put up a wall of protection and God desires vulnerability to be hurt. I just need time on my knees.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Dear Leah: I wish I could solve your heart-ache, I’m not able to do that, yet I can certainly pray for you and your boss… 🙂

      • Leah says:

        Thank you 🙂 She was actually pleasant and professional a short while ago as she was leaving for the day. I’d sent an email about a problem with the system – she came to explain. Jekyll and Hyde – never know who is going to show up. Thanks again.

    • jwfisch says:

      You and my daughter would have company. God has a higher purpose. His will is bigger than this!

  7. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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