When I think of my neighbor I pray for justice. When I think of myself I pray for grace.
Grace is defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we’ve done to earn it. We all need grace to be saved from the greatest sinner to the greatest saint. Quoting the Old Testament Paul put it this way, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.”
Extending grace, mercy, and the forgiveness it demands isn’t just a good idea. It’s what God requires of us. Remember we reap what we sow. If we sow to our flesh of the flesh we’ll reap corruption. But if we sow to the Spirit of the Spirit we’ll reap everlasting life. Refusing to forgive is of the flesh. Forgiveness is of the Spirit. And we get to choose which one we’ll do.
We’re called to walk as pilgrims in this world remembering that as born-again children of God this is not our home. We have a home in Heaven with God in Christ Jesus. Trying to live this out day-by-day soon teaches us that it’s easier said than done prompting us to ask, “How then shall I live?”
One quick answer is we should forgive others as God in Christ Jesus forgave us. This is nothing more or less than a natural outworking of Christ’s command that we love others as we love ourselves. Of course loving others so completely isn’t always easy. So often other people do things we wouldn’t do or things we think others shouldn’t do. Not that we should turn a blind eye to sin but we should certainly open both eyes to the idea that there’re many ways to please God and He’s well able to lead each of us into the best way for us to do it.
It all comes down to love. We need to ask ourselves, “How does God love us?” Did He wait until we were perfect? Did He wait until we quit making mistakes? Did He wait until we were sin free?
If we won’t forgive others we aren’t dealing with them from love. Instead we’re judging them. Jesus is the judge and we should leave that job to him since we never get it right anyway. It’s easy to say we love God. But how can we say that we love God when we won’t love our brother? How can we love our God who we can’t see when we don’t love our brothers who we can see?
If we’re really filled and motivated by God’s Spirit we’ll have His nature. We’ll reflect Him much as a mirror reflects our own image. We can reflect that nature not just in our personal circle of friends but also into the wider world. Imagine how much greater the leadership of our nation, our organizations, and our churches would be if instead of constantly criticizing those whose thoughts and beliefs differ from ours instead we devoted that time and energy to praying for them? If we as the born-again Church of Christ turned our criticism into intercession we would see the most effective changes possible shining like a bright light after a dark night.
It comes down to this: by grace we have been saved so we should extend grace to those around us. To love as we have been loved. And to forgive as we have been forgiven. We are one in Him so let’s go forth and be one with each other.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, Global Studies, and Religion. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2019 Contact Dr. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens or visit Dr. Owens Amazon Page / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens