Thursday, April 18, 2013

Do not fail to extend grace

Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV)
14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

A friend of mine recently went through an extremely trying circumstance, through no fault of his own. However, during the course of this experience, a stranger also involved in this circumstance, supposedly a believer, said something to him to the effect of "You are here because of your own stupidity." This obviously hurt, especially considering the stress of the situation was still quite fresh.

I didn't get a chance to talk to him about it until a couple of days later, and the peace in his spirit was absolutely tremendous. Within hours of it having happened, my friend had forgiven this person. I was amazed and encouraged to hear that. I said to my wife after the fact that such grace and forgiveness is truly a mark of maturity in a believer's life.

Jesus endured more unwarranted abuse than we can possibly imagine and hopefully will ever experience, and in His final breaths on the cross, He asked the Father to forgive those who murdered Him. I can say confidently that any hurt or offense I have experienced cannot even be compared to what Jesus went through. They also pale in comparison to the sins I have committed against God, which, without the blood of Jesus to redeem me, are worth an eternity in hell.

Do you strive for peace with everyone? This same word translated here as strive is used in a negative sense multiple times in the NT and is often translated as "persecute" (e.g. Galatians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 4:9). With the same tenacity that the Apostle Paul, as Saul, persecuted the early Church, we should pursue peace with those who hurt us. 

Have those who caused pain to you obtained grace from you? Or is your relationship with that person defiled, or even destroyed, by a root of bitterness?

Matthew 6:14-15 

14 For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. 15 But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. 

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