In Need of Grace

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” -Luke 18:11-13 (NIV)

In Roman-occupied Judea, tax collectors had a notorious reputation. They were seen as swindlers who would cheat the people into paying large amounts of money that the state did not actually require. These tax collectors would give the mandatory amount demanded by the Roman government, and then pocket the remainder for themselves. Thus, the Pharisee had reason to condemn the tax collector of being a sinner. But if the tax collector is guilty of sin, then the Pharisee is just as guilty as him! In boasting in his own righteousness before God and his haughty derision for the tax collector, the Pharisee was blind to the fact that he was sinning right before God Himself! Pride had taken over the Pharisees’ heart and Jesus says that it was the tax collector who, with humility admitted his sin before God and sought forgiveness, left with God’s favor.

No one is perfect; not even ourselves. All men have fallen short of the glory of God. Though in our minds we may think that we are morally superior to those around us, the very fact that we have such thoughts shows how prideful we are. This then leads to the worship of ourselves instead of God; in our arrogance thinking that we can achieve moral and spiritual perfection without the help of God. But the truth is that in the eyes of the One who is the embodiment of holiness and perfection, none of us will be able to stand before Him and claim that they are righteous. However there is hope! God knows that we cannot match His holy standards by our own efforts. For this reason He sent Christ so that through His death and resurrection we may be made spotless and pure as He bestows upon us His righteousness. What right do we have then to claim that we are better than anyone else? All of us need God’s grace everyday; a grace that He is always willing to give. When we have allowed Christ to enter our hearts He will correct our pride so that His love may overflow from within us. With humble hearts we will be able to bear witness to the work of Christ in our lives and draw others into the hope which is available through Him.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Loving As A Body

“So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” -Romans 12:5 (NIV)

Our bodies are like finely tuned machines, with each part dependant on one another. Though they are diverse in appearance and function, they work together in order to carry out the many tasks the body requires. If even one part of the body was rendered unusable, the entire body would be affected. For example, the brain can send signals to the legs to move and run, but if the legs are paralyzed or some other part of the body is preventing the legs to move, then the body will not go anywhere. Or suppose if the eyes see trouble brewing yet the mouth refuses to speak. How then will our voice be able to call out for help in that critical moment? That is why we seek treatment from doctors when something is wrong with our bodies, so that all its members will be able to work together in an effective manner.

Whether we like it or not we are all connected together in the same way as one body. Thus our attitudes and actions affect those around us. If we think that our anger and pride only affects the person that these are directed to, we are sadly mistaken for everyone will suffer in some form or another. Our selfishness and hatred can do devastating damage in our lives and just as how a spider’s web can fall apart if one thread is cut, so too will our relationships crumble. At the root of the problem is our innate sinful nature. This is what propels us to give into harmful attitudes that will only cause us to become mired in unnecessary conflict and misery. It is only when we have allowed Christ to enter our hearts that He will break the hold sin has over us so that He can begin His restorative work in our lives. When we abide in His Spirit and allow His love to shine from within us, there is no room for sin to taint our relationships with others. We will move forward together in unity as Christ propels us to love so that He may impart life to the people around us.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Don’t Start That Fight!

“He who loves a quarrel loves sin; he who builds a high gate invites destruction.” –Proverbs 17:19 (NIV)

It seems to be a universal fact that little boys are fascinated with bugs. I was no exception to this rule. One day as I was playing outside on a bright summer’s day, I came across an ant colony and a small stick. As I saw the ants hard at work, my inquisitive mind asked what would happen if I placed the stick inside the hole. I grabbed the stick and plunged it down into the ant colony. Nothing happened. It must be noted that my inquisitive mind was also a mischievous one, and I thought it would be a good idea to keep ramming the stick down the hole. To my horror I found a swarm of angry ants, and quite a few with wings, pouring up out from the hole wanting to know who was destroying their home. Terrified I dropped the stick and ran, my lesson duly learnt.

While we may know that it is probably not a good idea to agitate insects, or any other wildlife for that matter, sometimes it seems that this lesson does not apply in our interactions with others. Too often we use our words and actions to provoke others and cause unnecessary arguments. Why do we do this? The answer is found deep in our flawed human nature. Our pride loves opportunities where we can bring glory to ourselves. That is why pride is often what sparks arguments, because in quarrels we have the chance to prove to others that we are somehow superior or better than them. But if such an attitude has taken root in our minds, we will only reap destruction and misery as our stubborn pride tears cherished relationships apart. Our only hope to be spared from such a fate is when we have allowed Christ to be at the centre of our lives. When His Spirit has infiltrated every area of our being and we have submitted ourselves wholly to Him, He will teach us to be humble so that His love may overflow from within us; bringing life to our relationships and healing to the broken.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.