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In my last post I described things God has been teaching me concerning the verse “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). I mentioned ways in which man today looks at the outward appearance of man and then basically makes a character judgment call. I then recalled a quote from John Ortberg regarding the church producing so many stone throwers. It’s fascinating to me to realize how quick we are to throw a stone based on outward appearances. In other words, believers seem to bestow disgrace to others who aren’t who we think they should be or do or not do what we think is acceptable.

What about grace?

As a church do we not sing about it, praise God for it, study it, believe in it, receive it for ourselves, name our children after it, hang pictures on our walls with the word on it, and expect others to give it to us?

Why is our first response like the Pharisees in John 8 toward a woman caught in sin to want to throw stones? Why is it that the ones who proclaimed the Scriptures were the ones who also proclaimed condemnation? Or, why are the rules more important than the person?

Philip Yancey in What’s So Amazing About Grace writes: “Readers of the Gospels marvel at Jesus’ ability to move with ease among the sinners and outcasts. Having spent time around ‘sinners’ and also around purported ‘saints,’ I have a hunch why Jesus spent so much time with the former group: I think he preferred their company. Because the sinners were honest about themselves and had no pretense, Jesus could deal with them. In contrast, the saints put on airs, judged him, and sought to catch him in a moral trap. In the end it was the saints, not the sinners, who arrested Jesus” (Yancey 274).

The Apostle Paul who regarded himself as the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) was the same man who testified, lived out, gave out, and humbly received the grace freely given him. “Even though I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:13-14).

This same grace that was poured out on Paul is ours. Paul wrote to the church at Rome, church of Ephesus, and Timothy:

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ.” Romans 3:23-24

“But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!” Romans 5:15

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:17

“…to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” Ephesians 1:6

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6-7

“…who has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time…” 2 Timothy 1:9

The Greek word for grace is charis which means: “the divine influence upon the heart, and it’s reflection in the life” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

As one who has been freely given grace and as one who knows and believes I am saved not of myself, but because of the grace of God, I ask myself and those who also testify as one who has received the abundant grace of God: If God has been so gracious and kind and good to me (us) even when like Paul it is undeserved, why is it so difficult to give it to someone? If, like the definition of the word, grace has divinely influenced our hearts and has changed us for the better when we least deserved it, why is it not more readily reflected in our everyday lives toward those we live with, work with, our acquaintances, or even to those who aggravate us like on the roads we drive on or in the stores we shop at?

What keeps us from giving what has obviously been sufficiently given to us? This priceless treasure we carry within ourselves – how could we not want to give it away? What stops us from giving back to those so hungry for worthiness?

Maybe –

1. Fear – we are scared of what it would look like and it could make us feel uncomfortable

2. Pride – what would others say? How would this make me look?

3. Unbelief – it may cost me more than I have (emotionally)

4. Vulnerability – it may expose my heart which could leave me hurt, rejected and wounded

5. Laziness – I don’t want to do what is required of me

*This is where I am right now in my pursuit of understanding the grace of God and how it can be reflected in my everyday life. The next book I will begin reading (besides the Bible) is The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel.

I leave you today with Philippians 4:23 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

Jennifer Johnson

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"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." -Revelations 1:5b-6

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