Yesterday I was able to spend a short time with an old friend. Over a cup of coffee we were able to catch up on both of our heart issues and encourage each other. One thing she told me about was meeting a young man who told her of being judged by Christians and how painful that was. We spoke of many things during that hour, but that was the one that stuck with me. I started reading a new book last night from Dr. Charles Swindoll, “The Grace Awakening”. And this morning I read a devotional in my email that solidified for me that I need to further study grace.
"In a world of darkness and demands, rules and regulations, requirements and expectations demanded by the hypocritical religious leaders, Jesus came and ministered in a new and different way— He alone, full of grace and full of truth, introduced a revolutionary, different way of life." (Swindoll, Charles R., The Grace Awakening)
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:14,16-17)
“With the Mosaic Law came requirements, rules, regulations. With those exacting demands came galling expectations, which fueled the Pharisees’ fire. By adding to the laws, the Pharisees not only lengthened the list, they intensified everyone’s guilt and shame. Obsessed with duty, external conduct, and a constant focusing only on right and wrong (especially in others’ lives), they promoted a system so demanding there was no room left for joy. This led to harsh, judgmental, even prejudicial pronouncements as the religious system they promoted degenerated into external performance rather than internal authenticity. Obedience became a matter of grim compulsion instead of a joyous overflow prompted by love. But when “grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ,” a long-awaited revolution of the heart began to set religious captives free. Fearful bondage motivated by guilt was replaced with a fresh motivation to follow Him in truth simply out of deep devotion and delight. Rather than focusing on the accomplishments of the flesh, He spoke of the heart. Instead of demanding that the sinner fulfill a long list of requirements, He emphasized faith, if only the size of a mustard seed. The change spelled freedom, as the Lord Himself taught: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8: 32). Rigid, barren religion was, at last, replaced by a grace-oriented relationship— liberating grace. His followers loved it. His enemies hated it … and Him. Without a doubt, the earliest grace killers were the Pharisees. (Swindoll, Charles R., The Grace Awakening)
In our day-to-day lives are we exhibiting the grace of Christ Jesus to others, or the legalism and grace killing of the Pharisees? This morning I read a devotion from Karen Ehman entitled “What Would Jesus Say on Social Media?” I want to share some of her message below.
We feel empowered and also have a sense of anonymity as we tap, tap, tap away on our keyboards. But if a flesh-and-blood person were sitting next to us with eyes we could look into, perhaps we would state things differently. Before you post, ask yourself if you would say things differently if the person to whom you’re writing were actually sitting next to you. Unless we send a private message, our online words are available for others to see. Twitter followers see what we tweet. Facebook friends, and the friends of those on whose walls we post comments, also see what we say. And hundreds, if not hundreds of thousands, of people can see a comment we leave on someone’s blog. This reality should certainly cause us to pause before we post — especially if there is even a remote possibility we might later regret what we write.
Our mamas were right: If we can’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say anything at all. When we do speak, we can choose to be gracious rather than accusatory or negative. Our words must glorify God and not just exalt our own opinions.
We should be especially mindful that there are people whom we don’t know who might be viewing our online speech. Here is a great guideline from Scripture: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
So maybe we should jot down these questions on a sticky note or two and post them near the computer to remind us to ask:
- Is this comment wise?
- Will writing this comment help me to display God’s love to outsiders?
- Is this comment full of grace?
- Is this comment seasoned with salt?
- Have I asked God if this is the best response?