Monday, December 10, 2012

Loving Words of Grace, Part Three

To understand how I am approaching this subject, it is best to read Parts One and Two first.

Every person who is born again through Jesus Christ has the right to choose behaviors (like words) that are pleasing to their Heavenly Father. Indeed, factually, the Holy Spirit of God lives in them. The Holy Spirit is their helper, their teacher, their guide. He will empower them to do (speak, write) what is holy. This means that the Christian’s birthright includes Loving Words of Grace.

It is my hope that you are receiving my words as the promise of something better. It is my hope that your spirit is bearing witness to these words and that you are serious about expressing loving words of grace. I wish we had a lot of examples of people to follow. Selah.

One of the reasons that I spend a lot of time trying to “listen” to myself, is that I think the expressions of sin, or holiness, are useful for spiritual discernment. I can discern whether or not I am quenching the Holy Spirit in my life, or whether I am walking in harmony with Him. It is amazing to me, yet very true, that the Holy Spirit indwells individual Christians. The Infinite God Himself, eternal, everywhere, all knowing and all powerful, dwells within each individual Christian. And yet, we can ignore Him and offend Him and He lets us do so.

What patience the Holy Spirit has with us! What kindness! He possesses us, created us, owns us, and yet does not want what we have. He us unselfish, humble, modest and polite. It is no accident that the attributes in this paragraph are taken directly from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 which defines the love of God.

When we are filled with Him, and walking in harmony with Him, then we are pleasant somebodies who gain much. When we are resisting Him by being unloving, we are annoying nothings that gain nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, Part One).

We can choose to follow the world with sinful words that reject others, or we can follow the Holy Spirit with loving words of grace. We can discern our own heart by keeping track of what flows from our hearts. Thus we can discern the nature of our own spirit. And we can discern the hearts of others. When I am found to utter sinful words of rejection, I need to be rescued from sin. When another utters sinful words of rejection, they need to be rescued from sin. The need is always for a rescue from sin. The need is never to drag another’s name and reputation into disrepute unless it is Biblically directed as part of discipline, of faithfulness. And even then the words should be loving words of grace.

So I end this series with three recommendations. Three things you can do, yourself, to become free of sin. God will have a part in it whether you realize it or not; but He will not do these three things ‘to you’ against your will.

First, believe what the Father says about slander and gossip. When you recognize that you have grown up in a vicious and slanderous nation, then reject the practice of the nation. You can learn the truth of the matter by searching the Bible for such words as gossip, slander, rail and revile. Compare what God says about loving and wholesome communication with what God says about sinful and evil communication. The Word can change you (James 1:21).

Second, humble yourself. If you search, you will find many times when God expects people to humble themselves. When you compare yourself with God, instead of other people, you will come away with a better sense of reality. Reality is accurately discerning your environment. God is the key person wherever you happen to be. His is the important person, everyone else is dust. Only He knows all that is going on, and only He can keep it all in context. Only He knows human motive, often times we don’t even know our own heart. When you humble yourself before the Lord, He gives you grace! You can ignore the grace (for now), but He will give it if you humble yourself.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble’”. 1 Peter 5:5

Perhaps this will be a sobering thought for you. God will let you ignore Him and reject His grace. God will not allow you to ignore and reject His opposition. Consider the difficulties you face in this world, and they are all mere vapor in comparison to the fact that the Infinite God will oppose you if you remain proud and will not humble yourself! When God, the ultimate dominating Spirit, who knows more about your life and circumstances than you do, decides to oppose you, then you are as opposed as you can be. He is going to do whatever He wants to do and we are too dull to discern it and too impotent to resist it. There is no plan that will succeed against the Lord.

Far better to choose to walk in submission with Him. We can, if we humble ourselves.

Third, start calling sin “sin”. If God calls my behavior “sin”, then I better call it “sin” too. This also is a good method for discerning the spirit of yourself and others.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us”. 1 John 1:8-10

Several things can easily be understood from the passage above. We can deceive ourselves. Personal deception is not good, personal deception is spiritual blindness. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to cleanse us! We call it sin, and then He actively changes us. Finally, His word is not in those who deny their sins. I strongly suspect that there is a relationship between a person honestly confessing their sins and the person thirsting for God’s word, and treasuring God’s word. A general apology is a shallow start. Calling my sin “an accident” or “a mistake” falls short of the mark. I certainly prefer the company of those who have made a shallow start to the company of those who never, ever, apologize for anything.

Speak Loving Words of Grace. It is a skill as well as a blessing. If it seems like an entirely new language, then God has blessed you with an entirely new way of communicating. Following is a passage that is for all of us. The rights and power of the new birth are eternal and growing. Yes, it gets better and better. We have a great covenant!

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11

Grace to us all.

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