Grace For The Journey
Take a moment to read the following Bible verse and think about it for a moment . . .
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men. Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tables of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:2-3)
What do you think it means to be an “epistle” – a letter from Christ?
You will encounter many people throughout your lifetime who will never, open a Bible or read a single verse. But they are reading your “translation” of the Bible in the life you are living, moment by moment, as a child of the Most High God. Scores of unbelievers are reading your “version” of the Scriptures as they scrutinize the things you do: on and off the job, in the music you listen to, the movies you watch, the web sites you visit, the places you go, how you react to challenges in life, and how you deal with suffering and hardship.
It is important to remember …
That we not only preach the Gospel to others with our lips,
We preach it with our lives.
Sometimes what we do speaks so loudly, unbelievers can’t hear what we say!
Let me caution you before we go any further: I am not suggesting that we should or could live a perfect life in the eyes of the watching world. We can’t! Nor do I have any desire to lead us in the direction of feeling responsible for the salvation or condemnation of anyone because of the way we live. We aren’t. We are fallen, broken, and imperfect people who live fallen, broken, and imperfect lives. Everything we do we do imperfectly. We serve imperfectly; we give imperfectly; we love imperfectly. Yet, in spite of all of our imperfections, when our heart beats in tune with the heart of God, when our heart desires to live a life that is pleasing to Him we become a letter from Christ to an unbelieving world.
The Bible teaches that even our best works are “as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) before a holy God.
Our God does not “need” our good works . . . as if He needed anything!
But our good works are needed by our fellow man.
God has raised us from death to life to be the hands and feet of Christ in a fallen and broken world. Yes, our hands get dirty and our feet often stray far from the path God has directed us to follow. So let me give you the key that unlocks the door which will lead others into a deeper understanding of the Gospel you live and preach, the God you serve, and the epistle you are called to be:
Jesus says in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one another.”
Let me ask you: based on this command from our Savior, what kind of epistle have those around you been reading lately? I must confess that there are times when I dream about the great and grand things I can do for the glory of God . . . when in fact the greatest thing I can do is to be more loving! In 1 Corinthians 13, known as “the love chapter” to many, the apostle Paul makes it perfectly clear that no matter how spectacular our deeds, if we do them without love, we do them without any redeeming value. Our works return void, because we are poor, blind, and naked; living more for self than for our Savior.
The Bible teaches us in Ephesians 5:25-33 that the type of love God is talking about is a love that transforms our lives and effectively touches our relationships. Take note of how many times God inspired the apostle Paul to write the word “love” as he instructs the members of the church of Ephesus about their marital relationships. Paul says the type of love that God gives is a tangible love that can be seen, felt, and expressed. These verses tell us three things practically demonstrating that love: (1)Paul says it is a passionate love (Verse 25-26). This leads one to be sacrificial and self-giving; to be committed to live for the other person; even giving up yourself to demonstrate that love; (2) Paul says it is a purifying love (Verse 27. This leads one to understand that is our assignment to make our wife/husband more lovely, more holy, etc; (3) Paul says it is a protecting love (Verse 28). It is important to understand that this type of love is to be expressed in all areas of our life, not just in our married lives.
We are surrounded by people who are searching for answers to questions they don’t even know how to ask. They strive and ache with a longing they cannot begin to articulate. If you have trusted in Christ’s atoning death on your behalf, you possess the truth; unbelievers will look to our truth when it is lived out in the life of someone whose words and actions clearly communicate the love of Christ. The love of Christ is not only meant to compel us, it is to convince others we have something they desperately need, even though they will not admit they want it. If you want to be a “living epistle” that attracts rather than repels, let the love of Christ guide, govern, and direct your steps. And in those times when you stumble or fall, tell the watching world that your sin is why you needed a Savior who would die on a cross to pay for your sins. And He is waiting to welcome them also!
His invitation is simple and comforting:
“Come to Me, all ou who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”