“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy to all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
Ouch. I look at these verses and I see so many areas that I fall short in. Submit to authority, but what if I am right and they are wrong? What if I don’t trust them? Speak evil of no one, but what if I need to get some things off of my chest? What if they wronged me? Be gentle—well that has always been a hard one for me. I grew up with two older brothers, gentleness is really not my natural tendency, but are any of these? No. No, not at all. I don’t like to submit, I am not quick to obedience, I speak evil of people, I fight back, I am not gentle, and I don’t show perfect courtesy to people. I fall short in every single area, and as much as I love to make excuses, I can’t. The Bible doesn’t leave room for excuses, and God certainly won’t make exceptions when He judges me. But thank God for grace. Thank God that he takes my shortcomings, and teaches me to yield to Him. Thank God that He heals broken bones, and binds up our wounds. Thank God that He trades beauty for ashes. John 8:36 says, “So if the son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” This does not mean that I am perfect, that I won’t slip up, or even that I won’t place myself back under the bondage of sin, it simply means that I am forgiven. God gave me the perfect pardon through the death of His son, and Titus 2:14 explains, “[Jesus] 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.” He died so that I might live. He died so that I might have second, third, twentieth, hundredth chances. He died to make me whole and restored, renewed and redeemed. He died to give my life a new purpose—a purpose that will build up His kingdom and bring to light the truth of His word. He gave me grace, grace upon grace upon grace, that I might give that same grace to others. No one likes to be kicked when they are already down and out, and to think that God could have done that to me—no, he should have done that to me, but He knew that what I really needed was love, discipline, and gentle guidance. So if God has imparted that same forgiveness and grace to me, what is stopping me from doing the same to others?
Application: There is one person in my life right now that I am having a really hard time forgiving. I don’t want to be bitter anymore, I want to give grace. This week I will spend every day praying for that person, and praying for God to change my heart.