Good Morning Everyone,
Our theme for this month: “Graciousness”
Our Bible verse for today: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – and I am the worst of them.” 1 Timothy 1:15 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “Nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace.”
The other day in the mail I received the “2018 World Watch List” from the ministry Open Doors USA. Open Doors is a ministry that monitors Christian persecution around the world.
The annual “World Watch List” lists the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus. North Korea is #1 on that list. Afghanistan is #2. Rounding out the top ten are Somalia, Sudan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran. Others of note on the list include India, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, China, Mexico, and Bangladesh.
As I read reports of what is done to Christians in other places around the world I’m reminded of how cruel humans can be to one another. It’s not uncommon for Christians to be arrested, imprisoned, tortured, and killed for their faith. What kind of person does that to another? Well, people like the Apostle Paul. Paul, in his former life as the Pharisee Saul, did exactly that, and worse. He was brutal in his treatment of Christians. That’s what he was referring to in 1 Timothy 1:15 when he called himself “the worst of sinners.” That was a period in his life he ended up being greatly ashamed of and he referred to it several times in his Biblical writings.
What does that have to do with our theme of “graciousness”? Two things: First, there is nobody beyond the reach of God’s grace. Even someone as despicable as the murderous Pharisee Saul could be reached for Christ, led to faith, and transformed into a person who would be known as “the Apostle of Grace”. Paul went from being a cruel murderous persecutor of Christians to being so gracious that grace became the primary theme in his ministry and writings, and he even authored the most famous and influential essay on grace that has ever been written, the letter to the Galatians. If Saul could be reached by Christ then anyone can be.
The second lesson for us to learn from this is that in our dealings with despicable people, we need to remember that this person can potentially be led to faith in Christ and transformed into an entirely different person. So we want to deal with them graciously. That does not mean that we excuse their abhorrent behavior, nor are we to allow ourselves to be a doormat the person can walk all over. We will stand up to them and we will oppose their inexcusable conduct, but we must do it with a strong sense of confident graciousness. It is possible to be strong and firm, and still be gracious.
Want an example of that? Look at Peter and the other Apostles appearing before the Jewish leaders in Acts 5:29. They refused to comply with unjust treatment by simply saying, “We must obey God rather than men.” Or look at Paul himself in Acts 22 on trial before King Agrippa. He vigorously defended himself, but he did so graciously and respectfully.
Remember that nobody is beyond the reach of Christ, not even the worst of people. Be strong and firm when dealing with such people, but do it with grace.