MATTHEW 5:43-48 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
THEME OF THE DAY. GRACE-DEPENDENT PEOPLE. Think about a time someone has done us harm. An unkind word, gossip, slander or some other form of abuse has been hurled our way. It hurt. Deeply.
What was our initial response? Did the hurt fuel within us an immediate defensive position and desire “to get back” at the person? Or did we immediately do what Jesus commands . . . pray for them? Pretty difficult command isn’t it? We don’t mind at all praying for those we are in good standing with and love, do we? What about that person who has done us wrong? Pray for them? Are you kidding me? That probably is the last thing we want to do except maybe an imprecatory Psalm of calling down fire from heaven on them! But that is not Jesus’ way. He is telling us, “No vindication when wronged, instead love the person, serve the person. No bitter heart toward our attacker. Pray for them.”
In Jesus’ command on properly responding to those who have wronged us is the realization how grace-dependent we are in the Christian life. We simply cannot do what He commands in the strength of ourselves. So, if we are grace-dependent people, what must we understand in order to live as these grace-dependent people? Two things . . .
First, understand we are saved exclusively by grace and we grow as a Christian exclusively by grace. There is no power within us to obey the commands of God. It is all grace, all the time. The Apostle Paul writes to a pastor named Titus these words about grace – For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14). Notice what Paul says of grace. It saves us, it trains us, it develops godly character in us, it produces holiness in us, and makes us zealous for good works. The whole of the Christian life from start to finish is all grace. God gives both saving grace and sanctifying grace. Realize how grace applies in life beyond salvation and learn to rely on it beyond salvation.
Another thing we may do to help us be grace-dependent people is to live each waking moment for the glory of God. When we see that every second of every day is to be lived for the glory of God we will see the impossibility of doing so without His grace. Think about what God calls us to do for His glory; always have speech that is godly, always have actions void of selfishness, always love people without a self-serving agenda, and always think on things that are true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Immediately we should be ready to cry out, “Impossible. I cannot do any of those commands” and that is exactly where God wants us – helpless and totally reliant upon grace.
Grace-dependent people. That is what Christians are. May we learn more and more the necessity and application of God’s amazing grace beyond salvation.
PRAYER: “Father, I praise You for providing me sufficient grace to obey Your commands.”
QUOTE: “What God commands of us will also include the necessary grace to obey what He commands”