Art left the comment on my post “God actually cares about THOSE people: lessons from Jonah and Mark” and is a reply to a question that I asked him in a previous comment: “Why do you think we tend to cling to God’s goodness and graciousness when it pertains to ourselves… but not necessarily to others? (Like toward THOSE people?)”
This is how Art answered my question:
We can’t offer what we haven’t received.
There is the story of the old minister on his deathbed. He had been a faithful servant many long years. In attendance was a young minister, who, in trying to comfort the old man, suggested, “Pastor, you are going home to well deserved reward.” The old pastor sighed, and whispered, “No, pastor, I am going home accepted in the arms of grace undeserved.”
I think most of us never really let go of the notion we have to earn God’s grace, and be worthy of God’s grace to maintain it. So, we listen intently to grace as it pertains to us. We are keenly interested in it. We even long for it. Some of us work very hard to be worthy and make all sorts of sacrifices.
But, in the end, we cannot curl up in Him against Him with our head fully resting on His arm. We have not been captured by grace: freed from performance we can never meet and from the exhausting efforts of maintaining self-deceptions that we do measure up (when we know within we do not).
Rather than extending grace to THOSE people, we extend judgement, needing to be better than them in the hopes it will be enough for God and bitter that such should be extended grace when we have worked so hard and have not received it yet ourselves.
Imagine how kind, how forbearing, how gentle, how gracious we might be if we were truly “rooted and grounded in love, comprehending with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,” completely accepted and forgiven for all the evil that we do and that lies within our hearts? We would be “filled with all the fulness of God.”
“He who has been forgiven much, the same loveth much.”