I’m sure we don’t do this knowingly; we may even think that we embrace grace. Nonetheless, from our point of view, people who’ve done something wrong should get what they deserve.
I hope you understand that wanting someone to “get what they deserve” is the opposite of grace. It’s also anti-Christ because Jesus was full of grace and truth.
The good news is, Jesus is the master at exposing our grace hypocrisy! I talked about this brilliant “Jesus Jujutsu” in the these posts. For instance, Jesus said some pretty unsettling things to us grace-haters in the following passages (all are NIV):
15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (Matt.6:15)
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt.7:1-2)
32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (Matt.18:32-35)
7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
In light of these statements, it boggles the imagination that we would ever have the nerve to not forgive or be graceful. Of course, we all agree this would be foolish….that is, until someone actually trespasses against us.
Considering these things, why are we who say we’re following Jesus do so ungraceful? The only conclusion I can come to is that we are blind to our own grace hypocrisy. The “plank” in our eye is still blocking our vision. We haven’t allowed Jesus to work on our iceberg—what’s lurking beneath the surface of what we appear to be.
So, when we get squeezed, what’s really inside us comes out of us, good or bad.
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NKJV)
And if you’re like me, it’s not always “good treasure.”
Jesus deals with this insidious “iceberg” through our cooperative interaction with His living Word that searches the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb.4:12 NIV)
This cooperative interaction happens when we let His Spirit begin to penetrate our relational blindness, taking our “thoughts and attitudes of the heart” captive.
This is the truth that will make us free because, truth be told, our hearts have been contaminated by the “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune….the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.” (Hamlet)
Knowing Jesus is about entering into a relational intercourse with His Spirit, allowing Him in the middle of our mess, much of what we aren’t even aware of ourselves, exposing why we hate grace and why we prefer revenge and retribution over forgiveness and restoration. Here’s what Jesus said about it at the end of His Sermon on the Mount (emphasis mine):
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt.7:21-23)
We become “evildoers” when we have not allowed this relational process in our lives. We refuse to let Jesus remove the “plank” in our eye, so we end up hurting people while thinking we’re serving God. We end up doing evil.
And reading the Bible without the “living Word” only makes us religious (John 5:39-40). Blaise Pascal said it best…
“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
This was precisely the case with many of the scribes and Pharisees in Jesus’ day…also with Saul of Tarsus before his conversion. They were zealous for God. They could give a great Bible study but they never let the Bible study them, thus they really knew nothing at all. This is what Paul finally concluded (1 Cor.13:1-7).
Jesus said that fulfilling the Law and the prophets means walking in other-centered love, which means always extending the same grace to others as you would want for yourself.
12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matt.7:12 NIV)
When we finally realize the only hope we will ever have in doing this is by allowing Jesus to deal with our “plank,”we will begin the journey toward love and treating people graciously like Jesus.