“But He gives more grace. “ James 4:6
The Lord has been really ministering to me this last year about having more grace on people. And the bible story that keeps coming to mind is the one in Matthew 18 about the “certain king” (and I think we know who that certain king (King) is, right)? And this certain king called a servant to him who owed him ten thousand talents (basically 8.4 billion dollars) and tells the servant to pay him all. The indebted servant asks for patience and mercy until he can pay it back. The King forgives him of the entire debt that he would never be able to pay back in a hundred lifetimes.
This same servant goes out and finds a man that owes him a dollar and grabs him by the throat and demands that he be repaid the dollar immediately; and the man asks him to have patience and mercy on him and he will repay him the dollar that he owes.
But the first servant has no grace on him; but throws him into the prison. When the King hears of this he is furious and calls the servant to him and demands an explanation of his un-mercifulness, which the servant cannot give. And the story ends with the King calling him “you wicked servant” and throws him into hell until he would be able to repay the original amount that he owes; which we know that he will never be able to repay it.
Christ also has forgiven us of an insurmountable debt that we could never pay back in a thousand lifetimes: the debt of our sin, hard-heartedness, stiff-necked-ness, and rebellion against God when we once walked in darkness and followed the course of this world. He wiped the slate clean when we just simply asked Him to. No questions, no demands, no preliminary requirements to be met first…He just simply forgave us because we asked Him to.
But then we go out and demand the dollar from our neighbor or our brother. In other words we can’t forgive another for the smallest thing, and we choose to hold some offence (and very minor ones at that) against another. By doing so, God considers us “wicked servants” and will not forgive us of our offences either.
Even in the Lord’s Prayer He said, “Forgive us of our debts (sins) as we forgive our debtors” (one who has sinned against us or offended us in any matter). Did you notice that it said “as we”? In other words, our forgiveness is predicated upon the premise that we forgive first and then the Lord will forgive us.
And do you remember that the Lord also said that if we do not forgive our brother from our heart, then neither can our heavenly Father who is in heaven forgive us of our sins or offences. Because immediately following in the same story the Lord said that we would be cast into hell for unforgiveness. Hear what the Lord says in the very next verse about people going to hell for not forgiving, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
We have to learn to have more grace on people. This doesn’t mean that we don’t tell them the truth. Grace tells the truth. Because Jesus Christ was the grace of God, and He told us the truth. But it means that in our hearts we recognize where people are at and we don’t try and force them to come further along than they are able to. We all really want people to see what we see (or rather, what we perceive that we think we see). Because at the end of the day we all just want our friends, family, and the other believers to just be blessed by obeying the word of God.
This then leads us into the issue of the conscience. The other day my daughter used a word in her conversation that I would never think of using. As I was thinking upon it, I feel like the Lord ministered something to me about it. In her heart and conscience (based upon where she is at in her walk with the Lord and her spiritual maturity level) this is not a sin to her. James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
In other words, what might be a sin to me may not be a sin to another man, and vice-versa. Because Paul added to this truth by saying, “for why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience?” Can you see that truth there? What I might feel free to do or say is not a sin to me because my own heart and conscience has not deemed it so – but to another man it might be a sin to cross that barrier. But then he should not take his personal convictions and force them on me; or I to he.
For me to drink any alcohol would be a sin because of what I see in the word about it and also because of what I feel the Lord has ministered to me about drinking. But I will not force this on another brother who may not see that yet or have the same convictions as I. To me personally, it would be a sin because I have deemed it in my own heart and mind to be a sin. But to another, they may not even give it a second thought.
And so, with this said, it should cause us to really reflect upon our own lives and also upon having grace upon others’ lives. The Lord is working on all of us to bring us to that place of perfect union with Him and His Son. A huge part of this process is having our consciences touched by the word and cleansed by the blood.
We should refrain from judging our brother in any matter. It is not our job to judge our brother or find fault with him. The word says that love covers a multitude of sins…it doesn’t expose it, it covers it. Ham (Noah’s youngest son) was cursed by Noah not because he refused to cover Noah, but because he “made the matter known” to his two brothers.
Something has been happening to me the last year concerning this issue. I have really come to see this in a whole new light. It is not my job to point out the errors, weaknesses, frailties, or shortcomings of others. I know the word says, “If you see your brother overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness…” But please notice that it says, “overtaken.” In other words this man/woman is completely taken over in this fault. It has consumed their life and is ruining and tainting their testimony and their walk with the Lord. Then yes, by all means we should go to them and minister to them.
But to talk about them behind their back and to make “the matter known” to the other brothers is to bring a curse upon ourselves and our sons. I think the Lord is just looking for faithful men who can handle His personal family affairs with great discretion.
We cannot live our lives according to the dictates of another man’s conscience; and nor can we expect others to live up to the standards we have set for ourselves. Let us just serve the Lord and help others as much as we can. The word says, “Do you have faith? Then have it to yourself and to God alone.”
Let’s quit criticizing one another, finding fault with one another, and feeling it is our civic duty to enforce God’s law upon others. Let us just love one another and see the best in one another and believe the best of one another. We all have our struggles that we are facing and that God is dealing with us about, we don’t need to point out everyone else’s. Putting out another man’s candle will never make ours shine any brighter. I think this has ruined many a good friendship and relationships over the years. Let us not be of those who walk this way.