Overcoming our grace hypocrisy

Forgive-PunishWe rarely want grace to go both ways in our relationships. We love God’s unmerited favor…for us, but we hardly ever think to give the same unmerited favor to others…especially when they’ve hurt us.

This is because we actually hate grace.  I talked about this in “Erase the grace-hate” and “Grace goes both ways.” We hate it because it isn’t fair…to us.

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. 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)

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.

icebergConsidering 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.”

Bible-judgeThis 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.


About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 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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14 Responses to Overcoming our grace hypocrisy

  1. Another great post. Thanks for sharing. How many times have I resented asking for, or God granting grace to someone who has hurt me or betrayed me? This is good fodder for thought today, Mel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      You and me both! When I think of all the times I wanted revenge for people who hurt me instead of understanding, I’m horrified! But, again, it’s an opportunity to have some dialogue with God! I’ve learned that it’s a teaching moment…learning about what really inside of me! 🙂
      Thanks for your comments, Steven. Blessings.

  2. AfroScot says:

    May this truth be our reality, Amen!

    Thanks Mel.

  3. How many times indeed. I was convicted to let go of a couple of items as i read. It’s so easy to not forgive even from deep inside. So thanks for this. God needed me to hear this as I read it out loud. 🙂

    • Mel Wild says:

      “It’s so easy to not forgive even from deep inside.”
      That is SO true! I’ve found that only God’s love can truly free us; otherwise, it’s the fly that keeps buzzing around our head that won’t go away! But Jesus is the master “fly swatter!” He does this by revealing His love to us in such a way that our need to hold on to offense is replaced by pure joy and grace. He heals that retributive part of us that lies under the surface. That’s when we know we’re free of it. In the meantime, we just need to give it to Jesus and forgive in spite of our feelings. Anyway, the interaction with Jesus while you’re doing this is most precious. 🙂
      Thanks for your comments. Blessings to you.

  4. Pingback: Letting the Bible study you – Part one | In My Father's House

  5. Cindy Powell says:

    Yes. This. So very tempting (and easy) to talk about the many places I have seen a lack of grace modeled – especially in the leadership of churches and ministries – but so very difficult to consistently apply in all aspects of my own life. In fact, I have discovered that those I have the hardest time extending genuine grace to are those who have a hard time extending grace! Go figure. Jesus is working on me 😊 Thanks for shining the light – may the blind spots we ALL have be exposed and swallowed up in love! (And PS – congrats to your Cubs. I’m not much of a baseball fan, let alone a Cubs fan, but I was strangely encouraged by their win!)

    • Mel Wild says:

      “may the blind spots we ALL have be exposed and swallowed up in love!”
      Yes! Amen! It can be painful at times facing what’s inside of us but it’s always good and full of joy afterward.
      As I confessed in the other post, I’ve been a Cubs fan since 1969. I was a baseball nut when I was a kid. Now, the only time I watch it is when they’re in the postseason playoffs. But, like you said, having a team like the Cubs win it all after 108 years of frustration transcends the sport itself, an encouragement to all of us to persevere and not give up. 🙂

  6. Chad Wilson says:

    I wrote a song after attending Danny Silk’s first KYLO conference. This blog reminds me of it.
    The first lines say:

    It’s a standoff
    Who will shoot first
    We’ve got our guns drawn
    Our hearts are full of hurt

    We want mercy for ourselves
    But we want justice for everybody else

    • Mel Wild says:

      Good lines, Chad! Sadly true. Wanting grace for ourselves and judgment (or justice) for everyone else is the most insidious thing I’ve ever witnessed. Most don’t even see it, yet it’s so obvious. But until I saw it in myself, I was oblivious to it also.
      Thanks for your comments and sharing your song here. Blessings.

  7. Marc and Ann says:

    Thank you. I often struggle with forgiving those who have hurt me.

  8. Amen.

    We just finished a sermon series on the Lord’s prayer, thinking its familiarity might give us and the congregation a bit of a break from some heavy stuff we’d been dealing with in a previous series (grief and suffering through Ruth). How silly we were – and getting into the depth of what Jesus said about forgiveness really rocked all of us. So now we’re diving into another tough series on forgiveness and reconciliation through the book of Philemon!

    It is a blessing to see that others are wrestling with the same themes of Scripture.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “How silly we were – and getting into the depth of what Jesus said about forgiveness really rocked all of us.”

      Ha…yeah, there’s nothing light about any part of the Sermon on the Mount, especially the Lord’s prayer! 🙂 But it’s so much what we need for healthy relationships and walking in freedom. Thanks for stopping by and for your comments. Blessings to you.

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