Thursday, September 1, 2011

Reacting, Responding, Grace and Wisdom

I've not written much lately. I've been unable...not necessarily because of circumstances and busyness, but because of a little whisper of attack:


I've written quite a bit recently about grace. And it seems that after almost every grace post, I'm confronted with a circumstance in which I must offer grace. And like I told someone recently, my first responses to unkindness, cruelty and challenges are almost never good. I tend to react instead of respond. Granted, most of my reactions are held secretly in my mind, or at least go no farther than my husband's ears. But sometimes, words and emotions slip right through my lips or from my fingertips and touch the eyes and ears of another. Those are moments I usually regret.

Grace usually enters the scene when I stop to think how I would want to be treated, or how God has showed me grace. If only that were always my first response.

I digress.

So after recent subtle attacks from other Christians about my newfound freedom in Christ, I found myself reacting. And grace was nowhere to be found. I questioned how I could offer grace to those who would rather see me bound in chains of moralism, subjecting myself to the religious status quo than to encourage me in this new, liberating journey. So the dilemma before me is how to offer grace and live in relationship with these when I refuse to be bound by the shackles they would put on me.

You see, I've struggled over the last several months with distinguishing between law and grace. I've begged God for clarification. And what He has shown me is that there's no middle ground. There's absolutely no mixture of the two. The Old Covenant (law) was put to death (dead as a doornail!) with Jesus' death and resurrection, i.e., the New Covenant, grace, redemption. And I refuse to try to live by the law while under such marvelous grace.

It's been so eye-opening for me that the other night I started reading through Romans, and for the first time ever, I understood what I was reading! I didn't have to take verses out of context; I didn't have to question why I thought it contradicted other parts of the Bible. I finally understood!

I digress again.

So what to do about the dilemma? Well, I thought about Jesus. He didn't terminate His gatherings with the Pharisees. He let them ask their questions, and He let them spout off their laws and traditions. But He answered them, whether with silence or words, He answered them...with grace. Either way, the Pharisees would walk away puzzled, more determined than ever to prove Him wrong.

Maybe it takes a huge dose of grace to maintain relationships with those who are bound to moralism and traditions and who would argue their point at every opportunity. Maybe there's a time to be silent and a time to defend, both being founded in grace. Now I just need the wisdom to know when to apply one or the other.

If you've experienced liberating grace, are you able to respond in grace to those who try to bind you in chains?


  1. I've dealt with this too - with a friend who believes heavily in religious tradition, law, and punishment. I just avoid conversations that will cause conflict. I let her live in what she believes and I continue (as well as I know how) to walk in the freedom Christ purchased for me. When my grandparents discovered the freedom that came with the new covenant and starting telling others that we are no longer under the law, they were patronized with comments along the lines of, "We'd really hate to see you go to hell over this."

  2. Wow, that's a bold comment for people to make. But I know where they're coming from bc I've been there. I guess this is where I'm talking about needing that wisdom to know what to do...whether to reply.