Grace goes both ways

Man_pointing_at_mirrorThe biggest problem we have with grace is that it goes both ways. What I mean is, we love receiving grace; we’re just not that big on giving grace. Of course, we don’t always see it that way.

We want grace, tolerance and patience for ourselves and judgment on everyone else. It goes something like this…You should understand why I did what I did…but how dare you!

Jesus was brilliant at exposing our grace-hate.

For instance, He would say, Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them…”(Matt.7:12). We call this “The Golden Rule.”  But our rule is more like this, “I will do the right thing in this relationship as soon as they stop…. (fill in the blank). That is a very good indication of powerless grace-hate. It’s also a recipe for failed relationships.

Maureen and I have counseled many troubled marriages over the years. They usually come wanting us to fix the other person. They know that when the other is finally fixed of all of his or her flaws, then their marriage will be wonderful. The truth is, there will be no progress toward this happy end as long as they think this way.

We are very willing to confess the sins of everyone else but us. We want God to look under everyone else’s hood but ours.

The simple truth is, we don’t like the fact that grace goes both ways.

We don’t like double-standards, unless we’re the ones with the double standard.

Judging people is a sure sign of this double-standard. The Greek word for “judge” is κρίνω (krinō). We get the word, “critic” from this word. It has broad application in Scripture so how it’s defined is dependent on context. The context here is being critical or declaring someone deserving our wrath.

Jesus  pointed out that this type of judging is always hypocritical.  Here’s one example (bold-type added):

Judge not, that you be not judged.
For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged;
and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye,
but do not consider the plank in your own eye?
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’;
and look, a plank is in your own eye?
Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye,
and then you will see clearly
to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matt.7:1-5 NKJV)

A few quick things to point out here.

First, you will be judged by how you judge others. You set the standard.

Secondly, what’s wrong in you is probably far worse than what’s wrong with the other person’s behavior. Our critical attitude is revealing something very wrong going on in us, but we usually refuse to see it.

Third, when you have a problem with someone, the person you should change is you. Actually, you have no right to judge another person’s heart at all. Especially when you’re not even in touch with your own heart.

Finally, we automatically become hypocritical when we judge another person. You might as well point your finger into a mirror and take a long hard look at what you see.

Paul told us “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes” (1 Cor.4:4-5). So, has the Lord returned? Did I miss something? Then why are we so bent on judging sinners “before the time?” Do we know what’s really going on in their heart? Again, what this disposition does show is the darkness inside of us.

Judging usually goes both ways too. For instance, you have “church folk” judging those who attend their church meetings that are still living a sinful lifestyle on the one side, and those in the sinful lifestyle who think everyone in church is judging them! It’s just two sides of the same judgmental coin.

Didn’t we get the memo that even the thoughts and intents of our hearts are rightly discerned by the Lord? (Heb.4:12), so what makes us think we’re better or more deserving of God’s grace than anyone else?

Paul addressed this double-standard in Romans chapter 2. It’s interesting to me that judgmental people love to preach Romans 1 hot and heavy–let’s let those God’ denying reprobates have it with both barrels! But did they ever bother to read chapter two? I will put the salient points here. Notice Paul starts out with a “therefore.” Let’s see what it’s there for, shall we? (bold-type added):

“1 Therefore you are without excuse, O man,
whoever you are who judges,
for when you judge another, you condemn yourself,
for you who judge do the same things…
4 Do you despise the riches of His goodness, tolerance, and patience,
not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom.2:1, 4 MEV)

Are we getting this yet? Heap as much condemnation on others as you want for yourself. All we’re proving is our own contempt for the grace of God, demonstrated by our despising His tolerance, patience and forbearance for other people.

As James tells us, mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).  Let’s be triumphant in our attitude toward others. I’ll start with me.

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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 36 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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8 Responses to Grace goes both ways

  1. Lance says:

    So good. I heard a profound truth: we can only give away something we already have. Think about it.

    • Mel Wild says:

      So true, Lance. As Jesus said, from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. That should give us pause when we get so angry and critical of people. Criticism is not a fruit of the Spirit and suspicion is not the same thing as discernment. On the other hand, when we walk in grace in the Father’s embrace, grace and love comes out. 🙂

  2. paulfg says:

    Gracefull. 🙂

  3. “We want God to look under everyone else’s hood but ours.” Yep. Kind of like sitting in church listening to a really good sermon thinking, “Wow, I wish (blank) were here to listen to this!” Mea Culpa, how many times have I done that! And yes, I am without excuse. Grace, mercy and love always come first if I truly follow Jesus.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yes, we’ve all done those things, which is the kind of stuff God reveals about us when we finally let Him look under our “hood.” The more we see just how thorough and amazing God’s grace is, the more willing we become to give it freely and liberally to others. His love never fails! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Why the unexamined life is dangerous | In My Father's House

  5. Pingback: Overcoming our grace hypocrisy | In My Father's House

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