Show grace, because you’ll need it yourself!

Galatians 2:21 MSG

While grace doesn’t give anyone a license to live as they please, the judgmentalism that comes from insisting that others live by our standards has caused untold damage. Chuck Swindoll writes: “Legalism spreads a paralyzing venom…blinds our eyes, dulls our edge and arouses pride in our heart…love is overshadowed by a mental clipboard with a long checklist requiring others to measure up…soon friendship is fractured by a judgmental attitude and a critical look. And before you conclude that you’re not guilty, observe your reaction when you meet another believer who doesn’t think, act, or dress the way you do. Even when you think you’re sophisticated enough to disguise your real feelings, they come out in the ‘stony stare’ and the ‘holier than thou’ attitude.” Jesus said, “Don’t judge others, and God won’t judge you. Don’t be hard on others, and God won’t be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you” (Luke 6:37 CEV). A judgmental Christian acts as though blowing someone else’s light out will cause their light to shine brighter. But it’s not so. Paul writes, “If a…relationship with God could come by rule-keeping…Christ died unnecessarily.” You say, “But what if someone is getting off track, or sinning intentionally?” The Bible says, “If another believer is overcome by sin…humbly help that person back onto the right path…be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself” (Galatians 6:1 NLT). When you take it upon yourself to condemn others – you are denying them the same grace you may need before the day is over.

Soul food: 2 Kings 16:1-18:16; Matt 24:29-51; Ps 26; Prov 7:26-27

Show grace

Galatians 2:21 MSG

Grace is when we show favour to those who don’t deserve it. And that’s what God shows us. His love and favour are available to us, even though we make mistakes and don’t deserve it. While grace doesn’t give us a licence to live however we want, we can often be guilty of judging others for not living up to our standards. And that’s not how we should be living. Jesus said, ‘Don’t judge others, and God won’t judge you. Don’t be hard on others, and God won’t be hard on you. Forgive others, and God will forgive you’ (Luke 6:37 CEV). God doesn’t have a set of rules and regulations that we have to stick to in order to be loved, to have eternal life or to have a relationship with Him. Paul writes, ‘If a…relationship with God could come by rule-keeping…Christ died unnecessarily.’ But what do we do when it’s obvious that someone is getting off track, or sinning intentionally? How do we show them grace but also show them that they’re taking the wrong path? The Bible says: ‘If another believer is overcome by sin…humbly help that person back onto the right path…be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself’ (Galatians 6:1 NLT). We can help others without condemning or judging them. The Bible also tells us: ‘If anyone has caused grief…you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow’ (2 Corinthians 2:5-7 NIV). So we need to be forgiving, encouraging and showing others the same grace that we need ourselves.

2 Kings 16:1-18:16; Matt 24:29-51; Ps 26; Prov 7:26-27

Relationships: Communication

Matthew 18:15 NIV

For a relationship to be successful, we need to have good communication with each other. Without sharing our thoughts and feelings with the other person, we won’t get very far. In fact, we may just end up resentful and bitter because the other person didn’t do what we expected them to. But without telling them what we need, we can’t expect them to know. And if we don’t tell someone when something they’ve done has hurt us, we can’t expect them to apologise or change their behaviour. In today’s society, communication has reached new levels. We can now talk to hundreds of people through social media. And we need to be careful what we’re saying about our relationships when we’re online. Let’s not post about what’s going wrong in our relationships or what’s annoying us about our partner. That’s not helpful for the situation or honouring towards them. We need to make sure we’re raising issues in our relationships, and raising them in the right way. The Bible says: ‘If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you’ (Matthew 18:15 NIV). Sometimes we need to ask the advice of others outside of the relationship, but let’s be wise about when we do this and who we talk to. Once we’ve raised an issue within our relationship, we need to be willing to forgive. The Bible says: ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other’ (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). No one is perfect and no relationship is perfect. People will make mistakes. If we’re going to make a relationship work, and this applies to friendships too, then we need to be prepared to communicate and forgive others.

Num 16-18; Matt 12:15-21; Ps 107:33-43; Prov 3:27-28

Has someone hurt you? Forgive them

Proverbs 24:17 NLT

In life you’ll make foes as well as friends. It can’t be avoided; it just comes with the territory. The issue isn’t will you make enemies, the issue is how will you treat them? Our friends bring out the best in us, and oh, how our foes bring out the worst in us! But if you are a follower of Christ, there are three things you can’t do: resent, retaliate, or rejoice when your enemy seems to get their comeuppance. The Bible says: “Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall; don’t be happy when they stumble. For the Lord will be displeased with you and will turn his anger away from them. Don’t fret because of evildoers; don’t envy the wicked. For evil people have no future; the light of the wicked will be snuffed out” (vv. 17-20 NLT). Don’t allow bitterness and resentment to destroy you. It’s better to take your medicine now than to agonize later. Never wish ill on your enemy… leave revenge to God. Revenge is God’s business, not ours. You may know what the person did to you, but God alone knows why they did it. Paul put the matter succinctly yet firmly when he said: “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honourable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to… God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:17-19 NLT). Has someone hurt you? Forgive them!

Soul food: Josh 5:1-8:29; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 103:13-22; Prov 23:1-3

Loved. Accepted. Forgiven.

James 3:2 NIV

When we make a mistake, we can end up beating ourselves up about it for ages. We overthink it, worry about it, think we’ve failed and anticipate that we’ll just fail again. Once we’re in this mind-set, it’s dangerous. Our self-esteem evaporates and we can label ourselves as failures. But this isn’t our identity. It’s true that we’ll make mistakes. James wrote: ‘We all stumble in many ways’ and Solomon said: ‘There’s not one totally good person on earth, not one who is truly pure and sinless’ (Ecclesiastes 7:20 MSG). We will fail. But we aren’t failures. It’s good to recognise where we’re going wrong so that we can try and avoid making the same mistakes again. But when we start living out of a place of guilt and shame, we’ve let God’s truth about who we are become drowned out. The truth is that we are loved by God and accepted by Him. He doesn’t see all our mistakes and condemn us. Instead, He sees the mistakes, forgives us and continues to love and accept us. The Bible says: ‘There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:1 NIV). God isn’t condemning us, so we need to stop condemning ourselves. We are all a work in progress. In Philippians 1, it says: ‘God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns’ (v.6 NLT). God is working on us, and He’ll finish what He’s started. He’s not a harsh God who’s angry when we make mistakes. He’s gentle with us, so let’s be gentle with ourselves too.

2 Chr 16-18; Mark 6:30-44; Ps 119:113-120; Prov 22:1-3