My heart is grieved this week and I can’t share why. I don’t want to. My heart is too broken. It is broken because of human sinfulness and because of divisiveness in this present world. It is broken because I suffer, yearning for others to know the beauty of walking with Christ yet see them running away as quickly as they can.
Then I am drawn to think about the amazing grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another.
But when the goodness of God and His love
for mankind appeared,
He saved us —
not by works of righteousness that we had done,
but according to His mercy,
through the washing of regeneration
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
He poured out this Spirit on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that having been justified by His grace,
we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life.
This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone. But avoid foolish debates, genealogies, quarrels, and disputes about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. Reject a divisive person after a first and second warning, knowing that such a person is perverted and sins, being self-condemned” (Titus 3:1-11).
I want to keep this short and sweet today because I do not have the heart or the emotional strength to preach a full sermon. The sermon that I would have preached today will be reserved for next week. As the people of God, saved in Christ by grace alone, we are encouraged to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. When others choose to slander us, to try as much as they can to start a fight, and to be hateful or harsh, we remember that we were once prone to these things. Yet through our great sinfulness, Christ saved us. So, we devote ourselves to not waste time in speaking badly of others or maligning the name of any person in any context. No matter what any person has done or says, we avoid foolish debates and quarrels and disputes and strifes. This is what we are called to in Christ, to be sheep among wolves. To those in our midst who are divisive in such a way that they malign the names of others or have hatred in their hearts or are malicious, we know that this divisiveness is self-condemning and we were also once self-condemning. Thank the Lord for His grace.
Here is what I desire. I desire to continue seeing a culture of grace grow in my local church and in others. So I want to call us publicly to prayer for others.
“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
“Therefore, you should pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
[For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.]
For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing” (Matthew 5:9-15).
As you read this, please spend a few moments in prayer for your own growth in grace, for those who have made you an enemy, and that we might participate with Christ well as He continues to build His kingdom of grace.