Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Break this heart of stone

As I listen to Annie Herring's Heart of Stone, I was reminded again of Pastor Richard Irwin's moving sermon last Sunday at Anchorage City Church about grace.

The sermon was about grace. If we could really get our hearts and minds around the concept of grace, and apply it to others as the Lord applies it to us, the impact on our communities would be stunning, he said. Out of 100 people, one reads the Bible, and the other reads the Christians. When we who are Jesus' disciples fail to extend grace to others, we are sending a wrong message. We are sending the message of the Law.

But it's easy, right? I just need to be nice to people.

Well, here I am a Christian now two decades, and here's the measure of my grace: this morning, I growled at my gentle, sweet wife over some inconsequential issue. At the time it seemed so important. I had been wronged!

Instead of extending grace to her, I growled. What if God did that to me every time I failed even a little bit?

Pastor Robert Ekh said one time we expect others to treat us based on our good intentions, but we instead treat others based on their behavior. In other words, we expect grace from others because our hearts are "good" but we judge others under the law when they fail at something or another, or cause us some hurt.

When people who are not yet believers look at the church, what do they see? People who extend grace to others? Or do they see people who hold laws in their heart by which pre-Christians are constantly measured?

Pastor Irwin's point is if he can change, and if I can change, and our brothers and sisters who are under grace can change and extend that grace to others, the doorways to salvation will be seen to be wide open, rather than held by those constantly checking for adherence to the law. God's Kingdom will advance.

Break me of my lack of mercy and grace, Lord.

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