Thursday, June 5, 2014

I Choose Grace

Offence builds a Fence – Forgiveness builds Faith
Offence! How easy it is to be offended. Real or imagined we see the splinter in our sister/brother’s eye and want to ‘help’ by pointing it out and in that way remove it but Jesus says in Luke 6:37-45
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Judging another requires pointing out his/her faults – ‘you’ve got something in your eye, here let me get it out for you.’ How can you help when you can’t see yourself. I am a nurse and I know how hard it can be to get a little speck out of someone’s eye, even more so now that my eyes are changing. I wear glasses because I have been nearsighted since I was a child. But for years I have worn contacts for that and for the last year I have been using reading glasses. If I don’t have my contacts in I have to take my regular glasses off and hold the page close to read and if I am wearing my contacts I need my reading glasses to see detail or I have to stretch my arms out as far as they will go. SO come over here and let me take that little speck out of your eye for you. That is what I’m talking about. Don’t judge (pronounce judgment on) and don’t condemn (pronounce guilt/judgment on.) We are too blind to our own faults to see that we are just as guilty. We are just as condemned. Look at the next verse, you can use my glasses if you want.

Read on from verse 39. He also told them this parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? (skip verse 40 for now) 41 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 42 How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
43 "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

The fruit does not fall far from the tree. The apple tree is full of apples. The mango tree is full of mangoes and the tree that drops judgment on the person sitting under it must be full of judgment. Now let’s look back at verse 40 “The student is just like his teacher.” The student is a product of the teacher just like the fruit is a product of the tree. So what does your fruit look like? What product falls from your lips? Out of the fountain of thoughts and feelings your words spill out. So what kind of words are they? They reveal your teacher. We say we are children of God and Christ followers, then our words should reveal that our hearts are like His, not judging, not condemning, but forgiving and full of love. The tree of forgiveness produces the fruit of forgiveness.
But alas we are not Jesus – we get offended, and we learn from that offense. The offence or hurt teaches us that people are unkind, not trustworthy, even cruel so we must protect ourselves and guard against being hurt again.

Let’s look at Luke again. A few chapters further on Luke 17:1-10
17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch yourselves.

He says opportunity to be offended will come, you can count on it. People will say hurtful things, do mean things, even in the church (that hurts, they are suppose to be our brothers and sisters) and sometimes in our families (Ouch – they are suppose to love us) and in our marriages (Even though we promised to love, honor and cherish each other above all others.) So what do we do with these hurts? These offenses? We feel we are rightfully hurt, rightfully angry, rightfully offended, according to our judgment we can rightfully say we have been wronged. "If your brother (sister, father, mother, child, husband, wife) sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, 'I repent,' forgive him."

If judgment falls from the tree of judgment, forgiveness must fall from the tree of forgiveness. If we understood how often, how deeply, how painfully we have sinned against our brother, Jesus, we would not be so self righteous. But our offense is justified, look what they did to me! So is our sin against Him, we put Him on that tree. He forgave us, He shows us how to forgive, He gives us the power to forgive. How? Through faith. Trusting Him with our hurts, disappointments, anger, and fear of being vulnerable again. Trusting Him with the consequences we want to make sure others receive for their part in it. Trusting Him with revenge.
See Rom 12:19-21
19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.)
Trust Him to take care of it and leave it alone. How? Through faith. Is this hard? Ask the disciples. Look at the next verse in Luke 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith!" (Increase our faith Father! I need more faith to trust you with this. How can I let go of the pain, the offense, the memory, the control, how can I be vulnerable again? I need more faith Father!)

6 He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.
This verse is often used to encourage people to believe for great things, impossible financial problems, physical challenges to big for us to handle but this verse is right here smack dab in the middle of instructions on how to forgive! So how does it all tie together? It takes faith to forgive. Believe in Me, trust Me, and I will uproot those thoughts, that self-righteousness, those hurt feelings, that offense, that grudge, those memories. Jesus says, “If you have faith in Me, you can say to that root of bitterness and unforgiveness, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Forgiveness takes faith. Forgiveness is hard work. But ‘without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb 11:6) Have faith that God will do His part and remove the offense, the pain, if we will just speak! “Say to that root of bitterness and unforgiveness, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea.’ And say it like you mean it! We can talk for hours about how someone hurt us, offended us, but we pull back from saying “I forgive you,” or from telling ourselves, “Bitterness I tell you to go, unforgiveness you have no place in my life, in my heart or my words, so be gone! I forgive ________. The name that popped into your head right now is a good clue where to start. Don’t be defensive when you are hurt. Take the offensive with offense, go after it! Dig it up and throw it in the sea.
Guarding an offence builds a fence – choosing to forgive builds faith! He has forgiven me therefore I choose to forgive. The following song, sung by Damaris Carbaugh, rings true for every forgiven heart.


Careless words cut so deep
A friend I trusted, wounded me
For a while, I held it in
I didn’t see the bitterness and sin
I lost hope, I lost sleep
I lost the peace of Christ in me
Oh the hurt, over time
Became a prisoner of my own design
The Holy Spirit made it clear I needed to let go.
And let forgiveness flow

So, I choose Grace, I choose Grace.
I won’t hold on to anger,
To judge is not my place
I choose Grace, I choose Grace.
When I look into my Savior’s face
I choose Grace

Well maybe you’ve done the same
Cradled pride and nursed the blame
Now you’ve see what it cost
All the loneliness the life you’ve lost
If you’ve reached the point where you can’t take another day
He can take the pain away.

Say, ‘I choose Grace, I choose Grace.
I won’t hold on to anger,
To judge is not my place
I choose Grace, I choose Grace.
When I look into my Savior’s face
I choose Grace’

Righting wrong relationships
Two hearts are in accord
Reconciled and restored

For, I choose Grace, I choose Grace.
I won’t hold on to anger,
To judge is not my place
I choose Grace, I choose Grace.
When I look into my Savior’s face
I choose Grace