Monday, May 22, 2017

Grace vs. Truth

I grew up in a difficult environment and honestly, to this day, I am terrified of making mistakes. As a child, the consequences for doing something wrong were far beyond what sanity would consider normal and certainly beyond anything thing I will offer details about at the moment. Suffice it to type, terror was a constant in my day to day existence.
Over the years, I've worked through a lot of the damage that situation caused, but today, in a conversation with my brother-in-law, it occurred to me that there is more work I can do. We were discussing Grace verses Truth and how 99% of people tend to be heavily weighted with one or the other and how very few people seem capable of acting as Jesus did - ALWAYS telling people the truth and ALWAYS offering people grace for their mistakes.

I looked inward and realized that I do tend to cling to truth and find it difficult to offer grace when the person needing my grace refuses to acknowledge the truth. While it's easy to offer grace to someone who wants it, it's quite difficult to offer grace to someone who refuses to admit a wrong and refuses to change, thus requiring my grace on a constant basis. Still, I think I am required to stay in the person’s path and keep offering my grace until the person acknowledges his or her need for it and accepts it.  Of course I can only do that for so long until I am exhausted.

Unfortunately, when a situation gets to that point of exhaustion on my part, I tend to pull away and not have much, if anything, to do with the person who refuses to admit he or she needs my grace.  Onlookers tend to think I took my grace with me and call me unforgiving when in reality, I laid my forgiveness at the person’s door for him or her to pick up when the need was finally recognized.  I simply could not hold on to my grace and keep my heart unscathed any longer.

So, is it wrong to walk away from people who put you in a constant state of woe or is it a healthy action to remove yourself from a situation that causes you continuously offer grace to someone who refuses acknowledge his or her need for it?

There's the old adage that God gives us only what we can handle.  While the adage is meant to be encouraging, I think it's also a bit deceiving. In a way it makes us think if we're going through something difficult, that's what God intends for us and we need to suffer until it's over. We think if we walk away from a taxing situation in order to save ourselves from permanent destruction we are failures, but does God really want us to damage ourselves to try and help someone who refuses to accept our help?  Doubtful.

There are tymes in life when we are called to plant a seed. There are tymes when we are called to water and nurture a seed someone else planted. There are tymes when we are blessed to reap the harvest of a seed someone else planted and nurtured – And there are tymes when we are NOT called to have any part of the growing process. 

I think the key to navigating this life of spiritual farming is to be in communication with God and be willing to do what He asks of us, even if it is offer grace and remove ourselves from a situation that is preventing us from planting, nurturing and cultivating elsewhere.  

It's easy to get caught up in doing what we think God wants us to do, but how often do we actually stop and ask God what He wants
us to do? Sure, we're taught to forgive people, but does forgiving someone mean you have to keep putting yourself in a position where you need to keep forgiving them for the same thing?  I don't know that there is a concrete answer to that question that will apply to every situation. The point is, we need to do what God is calling us to do instead of relying solely on what we've been taught we should do.

It's important to note, I'm not advocating for giving up on someone when it gets tough, but I am suggesting that we sometymes put ourselves through pain, angst and trouble by staying in a situation longer than we're supposed to stay. We have to have faith that God will direct us and we have to be willing to work at what He asks us to do.

Just like faith and works need each other to balance (James 1), truth needs and grace and grace needs truth in order to be effective, but if you’re not called to have a hand in the current part of a person’s spiritual cultivation, the truth is, it’s okay to offer your grace and continue on the journey God has for you.  After all, Jesus always stopped to offer His grace to people, but He didn’t let offering His grace to people stop Him from doing what He came here to do.

 If you ask yourself “what does God want me to do”, truth and grace will always go hand in hand – but sometymes your feet will be involved as well.