In the beginning of his sermon on Sunday, Chris asked us whether we needed to work more on pursuing grace or pursuing truth in our relationships. I knew instantly which one I needed more of: grace. I knew because Chris said one indication of where our hearts are is how we deal with those we see as having incorrect doctrine. I had just had a conversation about a famous pastor of another church and my disgust at the way he handles the Scripture and steers his congregation.
Knowing my heart, I have to admit that there was little grace toward him in that conversation. And I certainly wasn’t acting “kind,” “patient” or “with gentleness” the way we are encouraged to in 2 Timothy 2:24. How could I? This pastor had affected some people close to me, and I found none of those things in my heart whenever I thought of him.
Incredibly, there is a way, but only through what Chris called “dependent obedience.” Galatians 3:3 says “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” I often live this way, forgetting that I was powerless to save myself from sin and also powerless to become more like Christ.
Does this pastor deserve grace? No… but then again, neither do I. Without Christ, I am a wretched sinner without a shred of goodness. Despite the fact that I had nothing to offer Him, Christ saved me and traded His life for mine. Dwelling on that fact alone gives me a new perspective on my opinion of myself and others.
The story doesn’t end there. God also send His Spirit to lead me (Romans 8:14), help me (Romans 8:26) and sanctify me (Romans 15:16). The only hope I have of being gracious, loving, gentle, kind and patient with those around me—especially those with whom I disagree—is by living every day in complete dependence on the Spirit.
This truth is especially precious to me this time of year, when we pause to celebrate Christ’s birth. I celebrate His birth knowing that it led to His death, His resurrection, my redemption and the coming of the Spirit. Joy to the World!