Open Facebook, turn on the news or just listen to the gossip after church on Sunday and what will you see? My guess is you will not see Christians loving one another, spurning one another on to love and good works or iron sharpening iron. Too often we see pride, arrogance and cutting comments as we desire to make ourselves more important.
I was recently talking with a friend about how I struggle with a lack of grace in my life. I want to love people, but often my pride and desire to be right gets in the way. Maybe the Lord has taught me a lesson or softened my heart in a particular area, but instead of embracing what He has taught me and living for Him, I use what I have been taught to "convict" and "condemn" others.
We need to remember as Christian sisters we are on a journey of sanctification and where I am stronger you may be weak and vice versa. We need one another.
I have a friend who has been a Christian for many years. This lady has been a real pillar in the Christian community over the years and has done many great things for God, but as I get to know her better I find she has a bitter tongue and a negative spirit. She is often quick to gossip and cut down those that are not in the same place in their spiritual walk as she is. It is so very sad because she is such a sweet lady and could be an amazing encourager to those around her.
So what can we do to make a change?
Grace for Myself
I am a perfectionist and often struggle with discouragement when I am unable to attain whatever I am aiming for. Having a large family, 16 children and counting, my home is not as fancy as I would like...honestly I am just happy to get the laundry done, three meals cooked, school accomplished, and a generally tidy home. Would I like my home to look like Martha Stewart's? Of course, but this is where I must extend grace to myself. My job right now is to love my husband and train my children. Anything else is just the fluff!
Grace for my Husband
Hubby and I will be celebrating 25 years of marriage in a few months. It hardly seems like that long, yet at the same time it is hard to remember life before "us". We have had many wonderful times and a few hard times. How do you stay married, and not just stay married, but grow into best friends? Grace! He is an early bird and I am a night owl. He is a silly jokester and I am a little more serious (usually). He is spontaneous and I have the calendar planned through the end of 2017! Together we have learned to encourage each other and be gracious! God is working on us together, but He is also working on each of us in different areas. We must learn to be patient with each other as the Lord refines and prunes us.
Grace for my Children
I have 15 children, with number 16 due in the beginning of 2017. Each of my children have a different personality, communication style, goals, desires and are each at a very different place in their walk with the Lord. It would be easy to compare them to each other, ride their backs as they grow and learn, but grace! Through extending grace and love to my children I desire to encourage them to look to the Lord for their direction and convictions. I will daily do my best to teach my children what God's Word commands, but also realize that only Christ can change their hearts, attitudes and actions.
Grace for my Church
We are the bride of Christ, yet we often do our best to divide and cut down our brothers and sisters. Why? Does it make us feel better about ourselves to make cutting remarks week after week about the pastor (youth pastor, worship leader, deacons, elders, piano player, etc)? Do we feel more spiritual by talking to our friends about the way "THAT" lady at church raises her children?
We are so quick to judge others and how they are living life, yet we are always defensive when it comes to the areas that we are still a little rough around the edges. We want to criticize instead of encourage. We allow pride to take hold in our life to the point we think we are too spiritual and don't need the church. Oh what a scary place to be. God created families! He created our immediate family, our extended family and our church family. When we get to the point we think we don't need fellowship, encouragement and accountability we are in a very dangerous place.
When life is said and done I want people to know that I loved fiercely! I want to be used by God in the lives of my husband, my children, my family, my church and my community.
C H Spurgeon - " if you have received this grace, which has abounded over your sin, take care that you do more for grace than you ever did for sin."