Relating Through Grace
By Pastor Patrick Badstibner
How do we relate to others through grace? Paul gives us a great lesson in this in Galatians 6:1-5
Paul spends the first two thirds of his letter telling his readers that we cannot achieve God’s pleasure, favor or approval through keeping any kind of law. Yet at the same time he reminds them that this does not mean it does away with the law only that the law cannot bring us back into a relationship with God. This is the purpose of grace. He reminds them that the law indeed has a purpose it tells us of God’s standard that if we try to live under it places it in accursed position. The gospel says that the curse has been lifted and placed on Christ.
In chapter 6 we see Paul begin by telling us how we relate to each other. The first thing we should note is that when Paul says “caught in sin” he is not telling us to be looking for our brothers and sisters to sin (Galatians 6:1).
Rather we see as we read further that this is the burden we are to bear, our brothers and sisters stumbles. Nor is Paul giving us reason to pat ourselves on the backs because we think we have our act together.
He just spent an entire letter telling his readers that we are not spiritual because of something we do, rather we are spiritual because of what Christ did.
When we stop thinking we have something to boast about, it becomes easier for us to be gentle when others fail. The one who is truly able to bear His brother’s burdens is not the one who thinks they are a policeman who is issuing a ticket because someone disobeyed a law. Rather, they are the one who just watched his fellow officer take a bullet and are now jumping in to serve as a shield to protect.
For as we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ falling, getting hit, stumbling we do not stand in pride… but broken. For we realize we are this person, yet God loves us passionately. How can we not love others as God loves us? (John 13:34).
We can only do this and treat others like this when verse three (Galatians 6:3) becomes a reality for us. You know it really is risky to stop being our own defense attorney and admit that we are indeed failures. Failures in living up to what God has asked us to do in our own ability.
It is risky with others waiting to jump on every failure, every mistake, every wrong word said, to be free enough to admit them. It’s difficult to admit that we are more often the useless ones Peter speaks of in 2 Peter 1:8, who have forgotten that our sins have been forgiven, when others lay in wait to tell us how we are not appreciating God’s gift of grace.
That is the secret to learning to live in the freedom God has given us and that Paul challenges us to live to. It is only as we are willing to stop trying to put on fronts that we have it together, that we are living righteously, that we are not abusing grace, in other words we are willing to stop needing to be somebody, so that we can experience the fullness of God’s grace.
It also becomes easier to accept that we are nobodies. Nobodies are those who freely admit they are in desperate need of the grace of God because they are clueless about how to reflect God’s character. It is only as we are willing to be nobodies for Christ that we will care enough to lift our brothers in emotional fireman’s carry when they stumble to the one who is passionate about them.
We will never do this as long as we keep looking at what others are doing. As long as we keep trying to compare what we are doing to what others are doing we will always reflect not God’s grace but God’s law to them. This is Paul’s message in verses four and five (Galatians 6:4-5).
We must indeed get out of the comparison game. We can not truly serve as long as we are comparing ourselves not against God’s standards but whether others are matching some standard that we have set.
When we compare ourselves against others because they are not living according to how we think we they should. We may not only be painting a low view of the law but a low view of God.
For the God of the Bible gives a law that reflects Him. A standard that is impossible for anyone to keep.
It drives one not to comparison but to desperation as we cry out for new grace each and every day to live it. Then to our knees out of gratitude for the grace given each day when we fail to. Which is why we must get out of the comparison game.
We do this when we complain about our co worker and say “they are not pulling their weight” and treat them in response to this observation. As parents we do this when we look at another parents children and go “I am so glad my children do not behave like that.” Nothing reveals this attitude more than when we look at someone else and go “I just can’t handle their personality or I do not know how to deal with them.”
This is not to say we should not be aware of when someone is falling or stumbling, Paul has already said that we should be. Yet, it is through what lens, are we looking through.
Are we looking through a lens that says “you’re really blowing it” or “don’t you know how much your disappointing God.” Or is it a lens that says “This Christian life is tough, I’m constantly failing, seems I am always expressing more ungratitude than gratitude for God’s gift. I am so thankful for the freeing, unconditional, unabashedly abounding mercy and love of God. How about you?”
Then we take the time in love to point out what our fellow brother and sister is doing. Are there times when harsher treatment is required, definitely. It still must be viewed, through the eyes that our brothers and sisters are the apple of God’s eye (Psalm 17:8).
Funny thing the harshest words are reserved for those who would put something in the way that would keep others from seeing the grace of God and his passionate love for those he now delights in because of Christ. These are the words of Christ as he speaks to the Pharisees as they emphasis trying to bring about God’s favor by keeping a substandard view of the law. Paul’s words in Galatians 5:13 as he speaks of what he would like to do to those who would call us away from walking in God’s grace.
When we realize that God is indeed deeply passionate about sinners like us it becomes a motivating factor that not only allows us to obey God because He first loved us, but also to serve. We are finally free to be in relationships with each other not based on comparison, but because we have been invited into the family with the same invitation.
When was the last time you got together with someone other than for fun and casually. That does not mean that we should not do that but if the only time we get together with someone is casually then we are missing a major benefit of Hebrews 3:13.
We should be getting together on a routine basis asking each other how we are doing in learning how much God loves us. As we encourage, become transparent, share past and current failures with not everyone but someone.
Sometimes we have to go through more than one someone to find the right someone. As we encourage each other to admit that we are in desperate need of God’s grace.
If it’s been a while since you met with someone like that then maybe it’s time. Time to get naked and come out from that hiding spot with a reckless abandon screaming into the lives of our brothers and sisters
“DO YOU KNOW GOD IS PASSIONATELY IN LOVE WITH YOU BECAUSE HE CREATED YOU TO BE AN EXCELLENT ONE.