Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Living Grace

Relationships continue to challenge me to the very core of who I am. When I reach the core I am not pleased with what I find very often. Reading 1 Corinthians 4, my mind raced with the many ways it applied to who and how I am with those around me. Paul begins and ends the chapter with "...we do not lose heart..." Sandwiched in the middle is an amazing discourse on the reality of being afflicted by others in seeming irritating ways, confusion in understanding their ways, accused or not well thought of and, yes, even being left.

Paul's emphasis is on the inner transformation that is taking place. All the problems people face in relationships are never talked about as abnormal or unusual. His emphasis, over and over, points them to the eternal goal: becoming like Jesus, becoming a vessel of glory.

I know, I have heard it a million times yet I saw it differently today. Paul says in verse 2, "But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways.". In verse 7 he reminds us, "...we have this treasure in jars of clay,...".   The work of ensuring success in my relationships begins with what I am willing to renounce. Then, am I willing to remember that others and I will always be earthen vessels?! In the end, do I believe God is molding, shaping, forming me to be a vessel of glory. To this I say, "Yes!"

Do not lose heart! Refuse to go to a disgraceful or dishonest place in your thoughts and behaviors with one another. This is the foundational principle that helps relationships succeed and here, Paul, is living out that very principle. The challenge is to continue to live and extend grace, to keep our eyes on the eternal goal...not the one opposite you. In time, you will learn the skill of extending grace yet maintaining healthy relating skills. For now...let the hands of God do their work. In time, you will give grace out of the grace you have been given.

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