There’s a post that has been circulating social media lately and it’s got me thinking. It’s a beautifully written story about a time that Anna McCarthy, the author, runs into a childhood friend. However, the friend, who used to be a “he”, is now a “she”. Maybe you’ve read it? (If not, please do here.)
Anna talks about how instead of choosing to judge, like many do, she chose to love. At the end of the story you can just picture the relief on the friend’s face. Who knows what choosing to display the love of Jesus did for that friend. The outcomes are limitless when we chose grace over judgement, love over hatred.
Of course this post created quite a bit of controversy and discussion. You’ve got group A, who are applauding and commending Anna for her actions, and you’ve got group B, who are booing and confused at how she could blindly ignore the sin in that person’s life.
I have lived on both sides of the spectrum. I grew up in a Christian home, but I always HATED the judgey church goers. I hated how closed minded they seemed and how cliquish they acted. I badly wanted to connect, but never felt like I fit in.
I slowly faded away from my faith because, outside of the church, I found people who seemed more loving and accepting than inside the church. I packed my bags, leaving my faith behind, and headed off to never never land – the place of happiness and joy (at least that’s what I thought it was at the time).
After many mistakes, and a whole lot of grace from God, I ended up running back to my Christian roots. However, my old faith turned new again came with a new found fear attached to it.
Fear of disappointing God. Fear that I’d stray away again. Fear that if I didn’t surround myself with only Christian influences, I’d end up being influenced in the wrong direction.
These fears were not from God, they were fears from the enemy. If these fears went unchecked, I could have become that same judgey, closed minded Christian I hated so many years ago!
I bet many Christians today have similar fears. Fears that create caution in their hearts when they cross paths with someone in obvious sin.
We must strive to fight against those fears and choose love for sake of others. We must strive to live in that tension, that awkwardness, so that we can display the grace of Jesus without compromising truth.
I came across this passage when reading my Bible.
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” (Romans 15:1-2, 5-7 NIV)
I love the part that says “bear with the failings”. To “bear with” means to “be patient or tolerant with”. Do you know how patience is defined? “The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” Thank you dictionary!
We need to do our best to be patient with those who are on a journey different than ours without getting upset or angry. (Lord, help us.) I know that isn’t easy, but we must try so that, like it says in Romans, we will “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do you see? Our love and patience and acceptance, with those who are sinning, brings glory to our God! We are displaying a character of Jesus to a person who may never experience it again.
Another verse I came across is Galatians 6:1.
“if another believer is overcome by sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” (NLT)
God wants us to be patient and humble and gentle towards others. He wants us to be careful not to stray ourselves, but not to the point were we are building walls, blocking out the ones who need love most. Pray for discernment and let the spirit lead you in those moments. “[We] can do all things through Christ who strengthens [us].”Philippians 4:13.
For those of us that this grace thing comes easy to? You must also have patience. Have with your Christian friends who struggle. Encourage them humbly and gently as much as you would encourage anyone else. We may think we are more opened minded because we accept the ones who are sinning, but if we are not accepting the ones who seem more closed minded than us, we are no better than them.
Grace wins with everyone. Grace wins everytime.
“Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.” (Proverbs 10:12 NIV)
AUTHORS NOTE: Due to some after thought and some responses I want to make something clear(er). I don’t want my points about being gentle and humble to create the thought that the second part of the verse, restoring them back to God, doesn’t matter. That part of the verse is very important and not to be ignored. However, finding the balance of restoring and gentleness can be hard for some. A lot of people seem to separate the two – either I accept with grace or I restore them to truth – and really it needs to be both. But, sometimes the way to restore is simply by giving the grace of Jesus. Sometimes that’s the best choice for the time being. Rather than speaking truth verbally, you are speaking truth through your own example.