As my good friend
I think that standards are good. I think that there are right and wrong ways to live in this world. But lately I have struggled to give grace when others don’t match up with my expectations and ideals of what is right and wrong. I feel that the Law response is the first to my heart and lips, and I sense that there is a more gracious way to respond to the world. I have tasted the freedom of living in grace, and right now I’m tasting the bitterness of ungraciousness.
My step-mother told me recently, “You’ve really set the standard for [our family],
I wrestle and wonder. There are things that are clear in Scripture, things that are right and wrong, and each day people that I know and love run afoul of those. And in many cases I struggle to extend grace, because there is a subtle thought in me that says, “If you extend grace, they will think it’s OK to do wrong.” I imagine that, in my heart of hearts, I apply that standard just as strenuously to my own failings.
This is so sad and frustrating for me, because I have come so far over the years in understanding how deeply I am loved by the Father, and the more deeply I know that in my own heart, the more I know it to be true of others. And as I look at others with transformed eyes, it woos their hearts to obedience, the kindness of the Lord leading to repentance. Lately I’ve been looking with ungracious eyes, splinters and logs.
I’m not saying that grace means we tell everyone that everything that they do is OK. I’m not saying that there is no place for truth. I’m just saying that I believe there is a gracious response of the Holy Spirit that speaks the truth in love. I believe that there is a state of heart that calls people on their sin from a position of love, and there is a state of heart that does it because it’s all about me. See, the problem with sin is not that it’s wrong. The problem with sin is that it is a cheap and destructive counterfeit to the love and life of God, and it breeds more destructiveness and alienation from God and from others. I believe that Jesus dealt with sin because He loved God and He loved people, not because He just wanted people to live the right way. There’s more to life than getting things right.