By: Tim Grunstra
“God saved you by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit,
For apart from me you can do nothing.”
When we strive in our own efforts to be good, to do and say the right thing, we are living by our works. The true gospel is a gift through grace from God to us, we cannot earn it. The minute we believe and accept the payment Jesus made on the cross for us, we come to the yoke of the Lord. His yoke is light, and we are filled with delight to work with Him, yoked side by side, instead of for Him, alongside Him, instead of under Him. There is an old Hebrew saying that, “God is like a light, prosperity, (good works, our fruit), is like the shadow. If you face the light and walk towards the light, the shadow will follow you. If you turn your back upon the light and chase the shadow, you’ll never ever catch up with it.”
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,”
No one is better, or worse, than anyone else; God shows no favoritism, or discrimination, Galatians 3:26-28. We are called to spread the fragrance of God’s goodness, 2 Corinthians 2:14, and we are even called to do it with a smile, not just of the lips, but a smile of the heart, reread Colossians 3:12. It might just be me, but that seems like a tall order. However, if we remember that Jesus has promised us that His burden is light, then even if it would be impossible for us to accomplish this lofty ideal of spreading the love of God in the face of hate, lies and destruction, we can, because we know that in our weakness He is strong, and He is the one that makes the impossible possible. I would challenge you to try to see the world from God’s perspective; it is a profound, impossible and fascinating practice. One thing I have discovered when I do this is, if I have a very difficult task at hand that will be physically, mentally, and or spiritually draining, I might not even know where to begin, I simply can choose to see it from the Lord’s point of view. Suddenly anxiety, worry and fear get washed away, because if I believe God and what He says about Himself than I know that my situation is in fact a very simple matter for Him. He loves me and He will lead and guide me through it. I know it sounds fantastical, but is spelled out in scripture many times. He is in control!
For instance, when I professed my love to my, now wife Jamie, it was not a simple matter, or topic of discussion. Most of us can relate that when you expose the depth of your heart, you quickly find that there is a lot we do not know and a lot that is out of our control. If I had tried to approach Jamie by myself, without Jesus, I probably would not have, at least not with the confidence and security I had. I gave it to Him and when I did relinquish, my perceived control in that situation, I found that I knew whatever she told me, I would be the same and that He would still love me and everything would not only be ok, but would be great. He has plans to prosper me. Once I spoke my words to Jamie it was completely out of my hands and that fact no longer terrified me, I was still nervous, but that is because I loved her and I knew that her answer would be delightful to hear, or painful. Yes, it could have been painful, even with the presence of the Lord. He lets us live out our choices, because He respects our free will. It is not freedom to do anything without consequences, but freedom to experience the fall out. Remember though, that He turns what is meant for evil to good. In this way He gives us “Godfidence!” Not by our strength, wisdom, power or will, but by His, and it is for His glory!
“For we are his workmanship,
Created in Christ Jesus for good works,
Which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Another simple way I have found very helpful when I look for God’s viewpoint is a way we can interact with the world to spread His fragrance: Speak The Truth in love, instead of speaking what is true in judgment. Let me explain. We often find ourselves judging others, even in seemingly small ways. For example, when I see a homeless person on the street, I might think, “They must not be clean, they must have had a hard go at life, they may be an alcoholic, or drug addict.” Or, if I have been wronged by someone I am often tempted to go and tell them all the things that they have done wrong and the many ways they are messing up. I might even think that I am helping them see what they are doing, so that they can change. However, it is not my place nor even remotely within my power to make them change for their benefit. It is an unwarranted arrogance to think that I can make someone change to be more like Christ. Do you like it when others point out all your failures and areas of weakness with an attitude of superiority? No, that is self-righteousness and not constructive. All it does is arouse pride, or self-pity in them and frustration and judgment within myself. The change we most likely will see is a jaded, wounded and offended heart. So, while those things I declared to them might have been true, they are not the “truth” of who they are, as God the Father sees them. God sees us as His beloved sons and daughters, who have been set free from sin and death by the work of Christ on the cross. That is truth. This is the value that we need to see in people and in ourselves. When we talk to others we should use language that communicates how we feel and what we saw, or perceived, avoiding the urge to assign motivation. We need to take ownership of our thoughts and feelings, but throw away the language of accusation and shame. Just remember, if you answer them from God’s perspective and they respond poorly to you, it is not you they are rejecting, but Christ in you. You can trust Jesus to take the entire negative interaction and turn it for our good and His glory. Have you ever seen someone show love and kindness in the face of anger and injustice? This is what it means to walk in Truth.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do!”
We are freed to live with Christ in us, knowing that the Father does not see us as sinners, but as His Son, Jesus. Once we are free of the negative traps of this world, we can focus on Love, Joy, Hope, Peace, and above all Glorifying God! We can choose to walk in the fruit of His Spirit as we undergo transformation of our mind and how we see each other and ourselves. Speak what is positive, what brings life, and trust the Holy Spirit to do the hard work on the heart.