Living in the grace of Christ is easy to say but sometimes very hard to actually do. How do you live in the grace of Christ when someone around you does or says something that just sets you off? How does God’s grace work in this specific instance? I think there are several things that immediately must come to mind:
1. Remember, they are not the biggest sinner in the situation. 1 Timothy 1:15 reminds us how to look at our own sin. If Paul could say he (of all people) was the chief of sinners, I think we certainly should entertain similar thoughts. These aren’t just polite words that Paul was saying, but are words coming from a heart that understood the depth of the love of Christ whereby he was loved contrasted to his sin-laden heart. No ones sin is worse than mine–no one! That opens wide the door to the next thought.
2. The love of Christ must constrain us. In 2 Corinthians 5:14 Paul reminds us what should be behind our thoughts and emotions — Christ’s love. In fact the very next verse is quite clear: “…He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him who for their sake died and was raised.” We don’t live for ourselves–we live because Christ loved us and died for us! So, that person’s actions cannot have any sway over us. Christ’s love must control even my thoughts.
3. Think long and hard just how God reacts to me. How does God always react when I disregard His Word, chose to rebel, and demand from Him? God is long suffering, merciful, gracious, kind, and yet always just. By just, He cannot over look sin. This is where the gospel lives and reigns. In Christ, God’s wrath was appeased. So, God’s justice is always served in Christ–always. This means I don’t have to seek His justice on the person doing wrong. I too can be long suffering, gentle, kind, and forbear even the worse sin. God’s love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude; it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Frankly, this kind of love is amazing love…how can it be?
4. Yearn to see God at work! Take a deep breath and be still! God is God. He is always out for His glory–always. Is. 66:18 For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. His glory will be seen! It will! Long to see God’s great glory at work in their heart and make sure that you’re angst about what they have done doesn’t get in the way. God’s Kingdom work is much more important than your angst!
5. Do not repay evil for evil. I love what Paul says in Rom. 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If you see Paul’s life (imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead…) you can at least begin to understand why Paul would wrestle with these thoughts. How often do the first thoughts out of our minds end up being downright ugly, unkind, and vile? God’s love didn’t repay evil for our evil, but produced the biggest gift of grace we could ever have dreamed of. Once again–amazing. How sweet this sounds!
6. Resist the urge to talk to others about it. Go straight to the person. But…as you go, go seeking to restore, build up, encourage, and ultimately exalt the name of Christ. Sometimes the building up needs to be corrective in nature but it should always be surrounded with care more for the person and the name of Jesus than how hurt you are.
Living in grace is not easy…but yet, it’s easy. Matt. 11:30 “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Humanly, its a knock-down-drag-out battle. With the Spirit of Christ within, His ever-flowing grace makes it easy and light. Wow–once again, amazing!