Grace and an opportunity to express it! A small team will be in the Dominican Republic next week. Work on this website continues – unseen by almost everyone. I was looking for something to re-post and ran across this series. Part of our work next week will be expressing grace to orphans, pastors, and a pastor’s widow. Several of you have asked about Pastor Alberto’s family. Look for an update next week. Meanwhile, enjoy the following!
God’s grace is more than a promise; it’s His paradigm
Jesus’ sermon proves the statement above. And if grace is God’s paradigm then it must also be ours. Luke’s record of Jesus’ teaching (chapter 6) lays out the path to an oft-quoted promise. We need to consider:
- Paradox – Jesus’ teaching runs counter to human wisdom
- Promise – How does God promise to express His grace to us?
- Problem – Jesus’ promise is misunderstood and improperly applied
The Path of Paradox
Beginning in Luke 6:27, Jesus’ paradigm of grace is applied to the area of human relationships. In particular, He focuses on dealing with difficult people. Jesus issues five quick commands:
- Love your enemies (vs. 27)
- Do good to those who hate you (vs. 27)
- Bless those who curse you (vs. 28)
- Pray for those who mistreat you (vs. 28)
- Give to everyone who asks of you (vs. 30)
Love is first and foremost a verb. Love expresses itself in actions. While we were still sinners, Christ demonstrated His love for us by dying for our sins. We were His enemies and He took action on our behalf. That’s grace!
The next three items can be considered practical applications of “love your enemies.” Your enemies hate you. Take action and do good to them. That means more than being indifferent. More on that in a second.
Our enemies curse us (speak evil/slander). Grace commands us to bless them. To bless means we speak well of them even though they speak ill of us.
Enemies mistreat us at any opportunity. Grace commands us to pray for them rather than retaliate. All of this is counter to anyone’s instictive or natural response mechanisms.
Grace & The Golden Rule
This is the setting in which Jesus chose to place this memorable command. Religious leaders of the day operated on something that sounded similar:
Don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you
The only thing necessary to follow that teaching is indifference. It requires no action on behalf of another. Jesus’ Rule was consistent with His previous commands. Obedience to the Golden Rule demands we take positive action on behalf of others. That is very different and it is an expression of love and grace.
Jesus Raised the Bar
The Golden Rule is immediately followed by practical applications of taking positive actions for others. They flow from the five preceding commands and they are just as radical:
- Sinners love each other – you must do better (vss. 32-24)
- Do good to others – God will reward you greatly (vs. 35)
- Your actions will prove you are God’s children (vs. 35)
- Your actions will be a reflection of Your Father’s character (vs. 36)
- You will be treated as you treat others (vs. 37)
This is the path that leads us to God’s scale-tipping promise. Remember, it’s more than a promise. Its a statement of how our Father does things. The misunderstanding of this great promise is tragic and we’ll address that tomorrow. But let me leave you with the encouraging, amazing words of Jesus:
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you – Luke 6:38