Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Learning to flow in grace costs, but also pays off
Key teaching: How to counter the negativity of the world in the opposite spirit
We saw yesterday that there is often a cost to putting on holy attitudes, such as the ‘breastplate of righteousness’ (Eph. 6:14ff). It shows up others whose motives are self-seeking and exposes malice, not by what we say, but by the contrast in the values we hold – and they will often take it out on us, as an easy target.
The world, largely under the dominion of the god (or prince) of this world, is a place that’s full of negativity, with criticism and blame ranking high up the order of negative traits. Following on from that is domineering and bullying, and asserting rights without wanting to take responsibilities.
TO EXPLORE: 2 Cor. 4:4, John 12:31
What makes us critical? What makes us want to find someone else to blame for a problem? After all, difficulties occur, mistakes happen and none of us is flawless.
I think that John would say that these ugly attitudes rear up when grace is not flowing, and we are not generous in grace because we do not love.
As Christians we can step aside from the blame game. “We should love one another” and that is because we can love one another… knowing who we are: children of God, who are completely loved and accepted. Our children wind us up at times, but the bottom line is that we love them and accept them, without condition. God, the perfect Father, loves us better and more unconditionally than any standard we could even hope to approach. And as we learn to live a stream of grace, so we can give it away to others… when they drive so that we have to swerve, when they lose our details or double book an appointment, when they promise and don’t deliver or when they are abusive or controlling or obstructive. Blame emphasises the problem – grace has a way of erasing the difficulty.
Blame, criticism and harsh behaviour are all ‘murdering’ actions, in kind, if not in extent. They quickly lead to grievous bodily harm of character and reputation. This, for us, is an urgent repentance call, because the Bible is clear about the cost of holding hate attitudes – the zoe life of God cannot coexist with it.
Often physical or emotional sickness is traceable to our holding on to some hate or unforgiveness (is that different?). The responsibility is ours, to put it right with God by treating the other person as God treats us.
TAKE AWAY CHALLENGE
Where do you need healing right now? Link this to who God is calling you to forgive and to bless, and what attitudes He is calling you to replace by grace and love.