Do you ever wonder where the love is, among Christians?
Sometimes we get caught acting
We’ve all done it, but why? Now that I’m living under grace myself I love to deal in real answers when I’m writing or ministering. I don’t want to tell others, “your doing this and you better get busy trying harder to improve yourself” because that won’t help them. Believe me, I tried that works-based version of Christianity for years. As a result of seeing that it always caused me to fail miserably, I now love to share with people real answers – what’s actually going to help them live in freedom?
I only began to understand this a number of years ago, but I believe 100% of the time when we give into behaviors such as the ones I listed above, it’s because we have temporarily forgotten who we are in Christ. We have forgotten that these things listed above are no longer part of our identity!
I love what my friend, Buffy Johnson, said recently on a TV program my friends and I recorded together about grace-based parenting. She said when her kids do something they shouldn’t she loves to sit them next to her and remind them what the Word of God says about them. They’ll sit down together and find scriptures. She said, “I’ll literally pull out my Bible and say, look what this says right here about you. You’re a daughter/son of the most high God. I am a queen honey, in this house, and you are my child and this behavior is beneath you. You are up here honey. We don’t live down there!”
Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all. (Mark 16:15 – MSG)
Did what Buffy said above sound like Good News? Yes, it did!
I remember years ago I was in Walgreens drugstore standing in line at the pharmacy. The clerk was being so rude to everyone and back then, I wasn’t the kind of Christian who was just gonna stand there and take it. After all, I was a blood-bought child of God and she was not going to treat me that way.
I started formulating my speech to give her when it was my turn. I was thinking, Well, I’ll show you, I’m gonna say this and I’m gonna say that and when I do I bet it’s gonna teach you a lesson. I was truly deceived in thinking that what I told that lady was going to straighten her out, like it was my job description or something.
Thankfully, God stopped me before I made a fool of myself. He gently reminded me that I didn’t know what might be going on in that lady’s life. For all I knew, she could be going through a divorce or she could be terminally ill. God is so good at changing our minds by first changing our hearts, isn’t He?!
By the time I got to the front of the line I ended up saying something along the lines of, “I am so sorry you are having a rough day. I want you to know that God loves you and I will be praying for you.” Then I handed her a Christian book full of the Gospel, walked away and prayed for her to be touched by God that evening after she got home and had time to read and think.
You know how each of us have a certain amount of ‘aha’ moments in our lives? Well, this was one for me that I have never forgotten.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 say,
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
Ok…so clearly, after reading those verses, what we are after is a love walk but how do we get there?
James chapter 4 talks about why we fight. It says we want something and do not get it, so we get mad. Look here at verses 1 & 2. I found a gem within these verses that I had not noticed before. Pay special attention to the part that I underlined.
James 4:1-2 (PHILLIPS)
But about the feuds and struggles that exist among you—where do you suppose they come from? Can’t you see that they arise from conflicting passions within yourselves? You crave for something and don’t get it, you are jealous and envious of what others have got and you don’t possess it yourselves. Consequently in your exasperated frustration you struggle and fight with one another. You don’t get what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
This is so good and I specifically want to zone in on the part I underlined because it reminds me so much of the way I lived prior to understanding God’s grace and the change I experienced as a result.
You see, one of the huge keys to living in grace is asking for and surrendering to God’s grace. Wives, you’re not getting the communication you want from your husband? What about asking God to pour out His grace on your marriage in that area and simply believe Him to make whatever changes He knows you and your husband need to come up higher in the area of communication? This is a very different way of doing things than you or I taking the weight upon ourselves to produce our own godly character or spending our energy trying to change our spouse. It’s not even our job to try to produce it. Look at what the Apostle Paul told the church of Galatia.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
You see here how the fruit is the Spirit’s fruit. The Holy Spirit reminds us of our true identity in Jesus! He produces the fruit as we believe – put our trust in Christ’s ability working in and through us. In the process, The Spirit may lead us to do certain things or take certain steps or not say certain things, but the direction all comes from The Spirit, not from us. This is exactly why we do not have to fight with our circumstances or with other people. We can rest in God’s grace!
In fact, a great way to know if you are taking the weight of any given situation upon yourself and trying in your own strength, apart from The Spirit, to make something happen is that you will be in a state of frustration. Frustration is a sign to us that we have tried to take the steering wheel back from God once again.
Believing has absolutely, hands down, become one of my favorite things to do. This is after experiencing so, so, so many answered prayers over this past year. Things that I had wanted to see changed in my life for a very long time, but I would struggle, trying to make them happen in my own strength.
Once the Holy Spirit (my Helper) helped me make the change from living a life of wanting and wishing for things, to living a life of asking for, trusting in and submitting to His grace in every situation and for everything I needed, there was no need to fight any longer. No need to fight with myself or with others.
Does this mean I don’t ever fight? Sadly no, because I don’t always stay surrendered to the grace of God, but I am learning to rely on God’s grace more each day!
So let’s remember that, as children of the most high God, this behavior is beneath us.
Unforgiving Christ Followers?
None of those are part of our identity. We were co-crucified with Christ and we are dead to all of that. Sin is no longer our master!!!
In fact, the truth is:
We are patient
We are kind
We are loving
We are good
We don’t keep a record of people’s wrongs
We are all these things and so much more IN Christ Jesus!
Who wants to jump off that cliff into the ocean of God’s radical grace? Who’s jumping with me? We have nothing to lose and everything to gain, my friend!
The cool thing about God’s grace is that when we choose to live under it, Jesus changes our desires from the inside out. I guarantee you, once you jump in, you will NEVER want to turn back again. You will be saying to yourself, why in the world didn’t I get out of the driver’s seat and let God take over years ago?
I have personally experienced such a high level of relief from giving up control and I have no doubt that every Christian can live in this rest!
If we will do this: let go and let God take over, ask for what we want, believe and receive everything Jesus died to provide for us, we will see the things we struggled for years to get, come to pass with ease. We will be released into our gifts and callings. We will stop fighting, walk in love and begin to show Christ wherever we go and most importantly, we will do what we do with right motives because true heart change results in pure motives which then results in us wanting to point people to Jesus all throughout our journey
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!