on grace and judgement

A Legacy

One Saturday evening, at Walmart, I stopped and visited with a friend I had not seen for quite some time.
After that conversation, I mulled over her words, laid it out before God and considered what I want my children to know when I pass.

My friend, when speaking of those loved ones who were near to death or had passed on, commented how important leaving your story behind for your family was. I am ashamed of a lot of my life story and so would never want my family to think on those things before and after my passing. But David said in his lowest, humblest point, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” (Psalm 51:12-13)

My life’s story is one of God’s grace and salvation. I desire for God be glorified in those darkest hours, in those moments of failing, of pain. My life must be a picture of God’s love, of His leading, of His mercy, balanced by His righteousness and judgment and holiness.

Oh, how the circumstances of my life reveal Him, even when I could not see Him. The sorrows of life, those times of anger and grief, also present us with choices and reveal our character.

Trials and hardships can perhaps be the most positive things in our lives when we pass through them and come out the other side better for having done more than just endured.

Sins are never good. However, God has the incredible ability to turn the putrid rags of our lives (our sins) into something beautiful, when we turn to Him. Israel sinned in the vilest of ways, and when judgment came, and humiliation, and humbleness, and then turning, God restored them to Jerusalem. The walls were rebuilt the temple was rebuilt and the ground laid for Jesus Christ to come, sacrifice, and bring eternal life. (Read Nehemiah)

The most beautiful thing to have come out of a people continually bent on doing evil is repentance and redemption.

Grace does not exist without judgment and righteousness. You cannot know grace unless you first know you deserve judgment. Judgment cannot be known unless righteousness is both acknowledged and understood.
The grace we enjoy as Christians cannot come unless we first acknowledge that we are indeed sinners, people who acted against God’s righteous character.

Because we receive grace, we should also give grace. And that has been a major thrust of many churches today, the topic of many sermons. But I would caution that grace must be accompanied by righteousness and judgment.

“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul makes clear we are inexcusable. There’s no room for doubt. The list of sins and the character of the natural man deserves judgment, but the kindness of God—a safe place to seek, a rest from the plague of sin and its consequences—leads us to agree with God who we are (sinners) and what we need (His forgiveness, mercy, and the shed blood of Jesus Christ).

In our interactions with others, should we not also follow God’s example? Through our acts of kindness, the character of Christ flowing through us, and being rock-solid on truth and on God’s righteousness, we can help bring another to repentance.