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Friday, June 27, 2014

Grace and the First Day of Vacation

It’s the first day of summer vacation for me, and a beautiful one it is! The birds are twittering, delighting my heart, the sun warms my back, a gentle breeze refreshes my soul and the fountain from the pond soothes me. It is so wonderful to glory in God’s creation, and I feel glorious! But I know the day will have its frustrations, like working on this old computer. Feelings are fickle and we certainly can’t live by them, but we do need to both control and enjoy them. And there’s nothing like the Word of God to guide and temper them. Today my reading was from Ephesians 4:29 " Let no corrupt word proceed from your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification that it might impart grace to the hearer." Of course, this was the perfect Word for me to contemplate today as yesterday I get quite annoyed and didn't' apply grace to my words.

Out of frustration that my husband’s anxiety kept him from participating in my adult daughter’s birthday dinner, I spoke a little harshly. I felt I had a right to since this has been happening for years, and I want my husband to deal with the matter. He felt he is dealing with it by making an appointment with the doctor. I believe he needs to change his thought patterns and go to someone to help him do this. I let him know my feelings, perhaps a little too strong. So today I wondered if I what I said was okay, but wrong in in my attitude. There’s nothing like the Word of God to correct. “Let no corrupt word." Well the first three words already had my attention and then it goes on, "but what is good and necessary edification that it may impart grace to the hearer”. Good and necessary edification. Did my words edify? No, they hurt and depressed him.Did they impart "grace to the hearer?" Grace, no. Interesting, there’s that word again—grace. I don’t think my words were filled with grace.

So here comes the life lesson. I’ve been doing a study on grace and reading several books. I know that grace has a lot to do with forgiveness and God’s mercy. But what does Paul mean by it in this context? The apostle Paul makes it clear in the next few verses what grace is not: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger…evil speaking be put away (v 31). He understands human nature that when we don’t apply grace in our speech, then bitterness, anger, wrath etc. follows from either party, the speaker and/or the hearer. Then comes evil speaking: slandering each other, malice and hatred. Certainly not the way of grace, but how about just a little edge to our words? The next passage tosses that idea by the wayside.

So how was I to handle the situation with grace? Paul identifies three positive actions to take. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ did for you (v 31). Nothing like hitting the nail on the head and showing me exactly what kind of attitude I should have. Kindness tempers our thoughts, tenderness tempers our words and forgiveness tempers our heart. Certainly a tall order, but just in case we think he’s asking too much of humans, he reminds us of how much Christ forgave us and died on a cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

The next chapter contains the punch line, the total solution, just in case we missed it.”Therefore be imitators of God, and walk in love (Ephesians 5:1)” Okay, I get it. Jesus is my example and I need to walk as He walked-in love. Another tall order. But the great thing about it all is that I don’t need to muster up the love myself. Jesus is the source of both the love and grace. He has all the grace I need for “every good work’”(2 Corinthians 9). Now I understand why God has led me to do this study on grace. These verses in Ephesians show me the practical ways I can extend that grace. So while I can enjoy my glorious feelings, I don't have to give in to the frustrated, annoyed ones or negative attitude. I can show grace with my words and love with my actions because God poured both of them out in abundance though Christ, on me!










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