Short Man Meets Big Grace


I don’t honestly remember much from my classes in college and graduate school. I find that I’m not alone in that either. We go, we learn (cram), get tested and forget. Nevertheless, there are a few, a few, very specific things that I remember almost perfectly. Back in 1996, I was sitting in a class on Christian Counseling that was led by Dr. Gary Rupp. He was talking about forgiveness. And he said something that lodged in my brain. I don’t think I will ever forget it. He said, “The most important thing to know about forgiveness is that you can’t forgive anybody.”

Now that made me stop. What could he mean? What he meant was, only God can forgive. When we forgive people, the forgiveness we give only works because God is powering our forgiveness. Well, I left that class knowing that I did not know what I thought I knew about forgiveness. That lead to a directed study, which lead to a journal article in the Princeton Theological Review, which led to a book I co-wrote with Charlie Jones. That book is available here.

I have been doing a lot of studying and reading on forgiveness. In that study I came to Luke 19:1-10, the story of Zacchaeus, and I could not believe the great message of forgiveness that I got from reading it. But I couldn’t remember hearing or reading anything on forgiveness from the story of Zacchaeus. Well, I thought I would change that.

Jericho in Jesus’ day, was famous for its gardens, palm trees and streets lined with sycamore trees. Mark Anthony had given the city to Cleopatra as a gift of affection. Herod has his winter palace here. Jericho was at the crossroads of the major trade routes just above the Dead Sea making it one of the most lucrative cities in the region.

Without getting into presidential politics, let me tell you a little about the Imperial Roman tax system. Roman citizens paid big bucks for the privilege of being able to levy and collect taxes on imports and exports in their city, town or region. There were three main offices for collection: Caesarea, Capernaum, and (you guessed it) Jericho. These “tax-buyers” would then hire people to collect the taxes for them. In this scheme then, a tax buyer who had paid for the rights to charge and collect taxes would sub-let the right to a chief tax collector like Zacchaeus, who in turn would hire people to collect them.

Tax collectors had a reputation for being extortionists because of the huge sums they collected. Jews who were tax collectors were seen as traitors for serving the oppressive government, in addition to being extortionists. Being in such a position it is no wonder that Zacchaeus was rich, and it was also no wonder that he was not well liked.

He wanted to Jesus, but being a short man he could not. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree so he could see over the crowd. Now these trees lined the main road of Jericho and were loved for their shade. The branches on these trees start very close to the ground, making them very easy to climb.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” Zacchaeus was hoping to simply see Jesus pass by, but Jesus stopped and looked up at him in the tree. This was more than he had bargained for. Jesus initiates the conversation with Zacchaeus, despite his eagerness and even abandon in climbing into a tree to see him.

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.'” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus responds saying, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” What that last sentence really means is that Jesus was looking for the opportunity to be forgiving. He was looking for it.

That is a very challenging thought. We need to be looking for the opportunity to forgive. I want to show you four things that we can see in Jesus’ gracious forgiveness of Zacchaeus: two things that Jesus did not do and two things that Zacchaeus did in response to what Jesus did not do. First lets look at two things Jesus did not do. What we don’t do is often just as important (if not more important) than what we do do. Don’t you agree?

1. Repentance did not come first—Jesus did not wait for Zacchaeus to repent or even to speak to him. Jesus initiated the discussion himself. Jesus was looking for the opportunity to be gracious. There are many places in the Bible where it is clear that repentance of the offender is a necessary part in the offenders receiving forgiveness. That said, there are a number of passages that show while repentance is necessary, its preceding or following the offer of forgiveness is not really what is important. In this case, forgiveness was the very thing that occasioned repentance.

The Law required thieves to repay property plus 20%. Zacchaeus was going far beyond that by returning four times what he had taken. Then giving half of his possessions to the poor further showed his joy in forgiveness. Jesus did not suggest that he return anything to the people, let alone give away his possessions—yet this was the joyous response of Zacchaeus to Jesus’ forgiveness. Jesus did not wait for Zacchaeus to repent. That’s the first thing.

2. Jesus did not bring up Zacchaeus’ sins and shortcomings—This is also remarkable to the story. It is clear from Jesus’ dealing with the Pharisees that he was not averse to discussing people’s specific moral problems. But in this case, he does not mention any at all. There are no words of criticism for Zacchaeus’ robbing from his own people to satisfy his own greed. He gave no sermon on the injustice of the Roman government in so heavily taxing the people, or in not assuring that taxes were collected fairly and justly. Jesus simply said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

The crowd did not admire the fact that Christ was so gracious. It is one thing to forgive someone. It is quite another to go home and eat with a guy who has been extorting an entire region of people for years. They were waiting for the lecture on everyone’s responsibility to take the law seriously. Or perhaps one about how Rome was on the way out and how God’s patience with them was just paper-thin, and would end at any moment. Where was the prophet when you needed one?

Ironically, Jesus was sounding much more like the prophets than the crowd was willing to admit. For example Hosea 6:6 says, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” And how about Micah 6:8? “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” And then there is Zechariah 7:9 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.'”

I think the crowd expected Jesus to make an example of Zacchaeus, or at least make him admit is sins, publicly repent, and ask for forgiveness. But Jesus chooses not to do or ask those things. He simply invites Himself over for dinner. Jesus was not looking for an opportunity to be righteous. He was looking for an opportunity to be gracious. Let me say that again, that’s a real important thought. Jesus was not looking for an opportunity to be righteous. He was not looking for an opportunity to dispense justice from the throne even though he had the right, even though he was right. He was not looking for opportunities to show how perfect he was. Jesus was looking for the opportunity to show how forgiving he was. Jesus did not bring up Zacchaeus’ shortcomings.

Next there are two responses of Zacchaeus to Jesus, two actions, two things that are seen in Zacchaeus’ life after experiencing this encounter with Grace with a capital “G.”

1. Forgiveness resulted in true repentance—Jesus says earlier in Luke 17:3, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” In this instance, Christ forgives him first and repentance follows. Jesus apparently did not keep a hard and fast order concerning repentance and forgiveness. Repentance is important, necessary for the offender, but lack of repentance does not lead to the conclusion that one is justified in withholding forgiveness.

Forgiveness many times becomes the occasion
for repentance. Grace is a very powerful thing. Grace can accomplish what a year of commonsense sermons and lectures on mortal “dos and don’ts” cannot. How many times did Jesus use such critical means in talking with people? Almost all of them were aimed at the religious leaders, the ones who were preaching the need for moral reform and personal purity! It is interesting that whenever God sent prophets to Israel (like Amos and Jeremiah) who were morally critical, they did not see many turnarounds by the people. Even Jesus had a much better record of evangelizing when he used grace tactics over critical ones. Think about it: Jesus was most critical with the Pharisees. He painfully and publicly revealed what they really were to the public. Their response was hatred; hatred that resulted in murder. Forgiveness resulted in repentance.

2. Forgiveness resulted in motivation for personal moral excellence—Forgiveness was not only the occasion for repentance, but gave the motivation for Zacchaeus’ obedience—even joyful obedience. There is a big difference in achievement between a person doing something they see as a requirement, versus another who loves and desires to perform the same task. For a requirement, we will do what is minimally acceptable. At one time, I worked for a big telecommunications company headquartered in Princeton. I had the job of figuring out problems between vendor invoices and our purchase orders. My supervisor made a deal with me that if I could clear the whole thing off by the end of the month she would take me to lunch anywhere I want to go. This was no small task, there was millions of dollars involved in this mess. It was not long before I found myself asking questions like, “What if I can’t find 2-3 files. Will you still take me?” For a requirement, we want to know what we can get away with and still look good.

For a desire, we will go the extra mile. Forgiveness frees us to love obeying the law. We willingly do as much as we can. Forgiveness became more valuable to Zacchaeus than his money or possessions. It is interesting however that Jesus did not tell Zacchaeus to stop being a tax collector, or give away the other half of his possessions—or that he could not stay wealthy. As the parable of the Publican and the Tax Collector in Luke 18:9-14 suggests, it is possible to be a godly tax collector. Forgiveness resulted in motivation for personal moral excellence.

How can we become people who look for opportunities to be gracious and forgiving? What can we do? There are two things that we can take from Jesus’ example here in His encounter with Zacchaeus that can help us become more forgiving people.

First, be more concerned about being forgiving than being right. Now I don’t mean here that by being forgiving you are admitting that you are not right. Not in the least. What I am saying is that we should be much more proficient at exercising our privilege to forgive than our right to be right. This is the point of Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35.

You remember the story: A wealthy king was looking through his books and settling his accounts and realized that one of his royal servants owed him what in today’s dollars would be billions. Of course, he called the servant in. The servant admitted that he did not have the money and begged for more time to pay it back. Instead of giving him more time, the king forgave the debt (notice again that the servant did not ask for forgiveness).

It was not too much later that this same servant found a servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. The servant who had just been forgiven billions, cornered this servant, slammed him up against the wall and demanded what was owed. The servant did not have it, and begged for more time to pay it back. But the servant refused, and threw him in jail.

News of this got to the king who became furious, and ordered the servant back. “How could you treat him that for a $1000 debt, when I forgave you your billion dollar debt to me?” The King reinstated the debt of the servant and threw him in jail until he could pay every penny back. “That,” Jesus says, “is how my Father will treat you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” Be more concerned about being forgiving than being right.

2. Look for the good in others and as much as possible look past the bad. We need reasons to change, to grow and to succeed. People will not change if they don’t have a reason to. If you don’t give a person a good reason to change they will continue doing exactly what they have always done. Very often we focus on giving the person the wrong reason.

One of the cardinal laws of personal relations is this: people thrive under praise and deteriorate under criticism. If we want to be exceptional in our relationships we have to master this basic principle. People thrive under praise and deteriorate under criticism. Look for the good in others and praise it. Praise it often. Praise it sincerely.

People are reward oriented. Jesus knew this and often connected reward with obedience through faith; both heavenly rewards and earthly rewards. Nothing motivates a person more to respect you and respond to you than honest praise. Nothing brings up our defensiveness faster than criticism.

Mandi and I were given a challenge a while ago that we are still working at, and I think this is a good opportunity to pass the challenge on to you. For the next 90 days, totally eliminate all criticism of your spouse…even positive criticism. Now that’s 90 days in a row, not 90 days out of the year.

Now some of you are thinking, “Are you serious? If I did that I wouldn’t be able to talk to him!”

Maybe you shouldn’t.

And I bet there is at least one person in here who is thinking, “How is my husband/my wife going to know what they are doing wrong if I don’t tell them?”

Praise what they are doing right and watch how fast they learn.

Zacchaeus exceeded all the requirements of the law by returning four times what he had stolen and giving away half his wealth to the poor. Surely this is more than any who would rather Jesus criticized him could have hoped for. Jesus here demonstrates against such thinking that a good meal and a smile can do more than years of social ostracizing by a grumbling moralistic crowd.

10 thoughts on “Short Man Meets Big Grace

  1. Dan,

    Thanks for the post, I completely agree with this:
    ““The most important thing to know about forgiveness is that you can’t forgive anybody.”Now that made me stop. What could he mean? What he meant was, only God can forgive. When we forgive people, the forgiveness we give only works because God is powering our forgiveness.”

    I request further explaination on this one:

    “1. Forgiveness resulted in true repentance—Jesus says earlier in Luke 17:3, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” In this instance, Christ forgives him first and repentance follows. Jesus apparently did not keep a hard and fast order concerning repentance and forgiveness.”

    Please further qualify the last sentence, from the Word, not your own opinion. (if you can)

    Please please, for the Love Of God, stop saying this concept this way:

    “First, be more concerned about being forgiving than being right. Now I don’t mean here that by being forgiving you are admitting that you are not right. Not in the least. What I am saying is that we should be much more proficient at exercising our privilege to forgive than our right to be right. This is the point of Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:21-35.”

    “Give up being right.” was the surprise charge, my pastor gave me in our wedding ceremony. It’s been an unmitgated disaster for these 26 and counting years of marraige.

    I think you will appreciate the irony and the humor when I ask you, “Don’t you have to be “right”, in order to ask people to “give up being right.”? ; – )

    For me, like you, we understand that “being right” is not about our personal ego. We correctly understand that we have to be “right” in order to do good. If we are “wrong” about an idea or effort, no matter how sincere we may be, we can’t do good, if our idea or motivation is “wrong”, even by accident.

    I hope God will be powering your gracious answer to the above queries! ; – )

    Thanks and Salt, A-dad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments and questions. I am glad to respond to them. I would have answered sooner but my family and I were out for a hike.
      1. I am glad you agree that by ourselves we can’t forgive anyone of anything. We don’t have the authority or the power to do so. Forgiveness is a supernatural act that we do along with the Holy Spirit.
      2. You asked me to qualify the idea that Jesus taught both repentance before forgiveness and forgiveness before repentance. That question is addressed in my post with scripture references. It is not my opinion, but my conclusion based on texts like the one’s referenced and quoted in my post. However, other passages where repentance does not come before forgiveness in Jesus’ example or teaching are: Mathew 6:14-15,
      Mark 2:3-12 and its parallels and 11:25, Luke 6:37, 23:34, and John 8:11.
      3. You asked me to “Please please, for the Love Of God, stop saying this concept this way: “First, be more concerned about being forgiving than being right.” I need to ask you why. This is the clear teaching of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. Does Paul not teach the same thing when he says, “why not rather be wronged?” in 1 Corinthians 6:7? There is a difference between being right and being righteous. Our desire to be seen as being in the right or being correct often supersedes our desire to forgive and be gracious. The righteous person however, will be gracious, because that is what righteousness teaches. We are to conduct ourselves in the truth and we are to respond to others in grace.

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      1. Dan,

        Thanks for your considered response. One thing we might consider, which your post begins to touch on, is the style of grace we give to the ungodly, compared to the style of grace we give to the godly.

        I don’t think Zacchaeus was a godly man when Jesus first spoke to him, which might be why Jesus dealt with Zacchaeus the way he did, with no direct rebuke that we know of.
        Conversely, the pharisees were supposed to be godly and thought of themselves as godly, but they were not as godly as they thought they were. Perhaps this is why the Grace Jesus showed them was strong rebuke.
        Luke 17:3 – 4, I would think supports this idea of directness between godly people, as it starts by saying “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them”. (Our godly brothers and sisters.)

        In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Matthew 18:21-35, (The NIV says “unmerciful servant”) the servant who the king forgave, was being unjust (and wrong) to his fellow servant. No one thought the first servant was “right”. Should the second servant have given up being “right”, for wanting justice and a chance to re-pay? Conversely, the King was “right” to punish the unmerciful, unforgiving servant. (should the king have given up being “right”?)
        This parable is not called “The parable of the servant who thought he was right”! ; -) It is about forgiving as we have been forgiven. If we actually do forgive as we have been forgiven, that is the “right” thing to do.

        Finally, I am seeing the concept of “why not be wronged” grossly mis-applied in the church today. If Paul thought this approach was correct in all situations, he would not have appealed to Caesar, to insist on his innocence in the highest earthly court of the time. This was an instance where it was a godly thing for Paul to insist on being “right”, that he was not guilty of the false charges against him.

        Finally, you asked me “why” re: giving up being “right”. I already mentioned the on going damage this idea has done to our family, when delivered as an unexpected wedding “charge” to a husband who must lead. (How can one lead if they always have to be “wrong”? One can’t.)
        Secondly, our family has a special needs child, which, in turn, has caused some unusual marital stress. Some people in our church did not and do not understand special needs family dynamics. Hence I was falsely accused of “abuse” recently, by a local ministry, where the leader of this “ministry” lied about me on an affidavit. The initial law suit was thrown out, when this “ministries” lies about my family where challenged. I am still working on criminal endictments against the involved church leaders, because, like the pharisees, they are blind guides in their “ministry” to my wife and family. With regard to the involved church leaders, I am in a Matthew 10:16-20 and 26-31 situation.
        One involved pastor keeps trying the “why not be wronged” saw, when he should actually “give up being wrong”.

        One older and better way to express the “give up being right” idea would be “discretion is the better part of valor”.
        I understand, that many times, being “right” about an issue, can be an impediment to resolving it.
        In these cases, it is “right” to focus on other means to a resolution, rather than being “right” as a means to a resolution.

        In any case pastor Dan, I hope that the above will expand your understanding of “rightness”, when it is right to hold on to it, and when it is right to let it go. ; – )
        Not to mention that the Spirt will tug at our hearts at those times, and others.
        Don’t feel obligated to respond, especially if you need to think on the above a bit more.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. A Dad, I will address your concerns one at a time:

          First you said, “Thanks for your considered response. One thing we might consider, which your post begins to touch on, is the style of grace we give to the ungodly, compared to the style of grace we give to the godly.”

          Why do you assume that the “godly” get a different quality of grace than the “ungodly?” What is your scriptural backing for such an idea?

          Second, “I don’t think Zacchaeus was a godly man when Jesus first spoke to him, which might be why Jesus dealt with Zacchaeus the way he did, with no direct rebuke that we know of. Conversely, the pharisees were supposed to be godly and thought of themselves as godly, but they were not as godly as they thought they were. Perhaps this is why the Grace Jesus showed them was strong rebuke.
          Luke 17:3 – 4, I would think supports this idea of directness between godly people, as it starts by saying “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them”. (Our godly brothers and sisters.)”

          Jesus’ rebuking of the Pharisees was not grace, it was truth. And what about the paralytic in Mark 2? Was he “ungodly?” Your argument for different qualities of grace is not as strong as you think.

          Third, “In the parable of the unforgiving servant, Matthew 18:21-35, (The NIV says “unmerciful servant”) the servant who the king forgave, was being unjust (and wrong) to his fellow servant. No one thought the first servant was “right”. Should the second servant have given up being “right”, for wanting justice and a chance to re-pay? Conversely, the King was “right” to punish the unmerciful, unforgiving servant. (should the king have given up being “right”?) This parable is not called “The parable of the servant who thought he was right”! ; -) It is about forgiving as we have been forgiven. If we actually do forgive as we have been forgiven, that is the “right” thing to do.”

          It seems that you are not taking into account the question that the parable answers, “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” (Matthew 18:21), or Jesus’ conclusion in verse 35, “Matthew 18:35, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” Jesus is teaching that when He forgives us of the massive debt we owe Him, we need to give matching grace to those who have debt with us—especially since it is so much less than the debt we owed God. Peter’s question assumes he is the person in the right regarding the brother who offends him. Additionally, neither do Peter’s question, Jesus’ parable, or His final answer teach that repentance is a necessary pre-qualifier for forgiveness. The king in the parable, was right that his servant had lost an obscene amount of his money, the king chose to exercise his privilege to forgive than assert his right to be right. Notice that neither servant repents or asks for forgiveness, they both ask for more time to pay the debt back.

          Fourth, “Finally, I am seeing the concept of “why not be wronged” grossly mis-applied in the church today.”

          Christians have used the Bible to justify and rationalize all manner of horrible and wretched things since the beginning of time. Just because that verse and others has been “grossly misapplied,” it does not follow that we should not cultivate that attitude with one another. Grace is never convenient. It is always inconvenient. It is too costly to be otherwise. As Jesus continues to forgive us, even when we take advantage of His word and misuse it to suit our own ends, we need to forgive those who sin against us in the name of God and holiness.

          Fifth, “If Paul thought this approach was correct in all situations, he would not have appealed to Caesar, to insist on his innocence in the highest earthly court of the time. This was an instance where it was a godly thing for Paul to insist on being “right”, that he was not guilty of the false charges against him.”

          First, I am far from believing that the “why not rather be wronged” approach is the best approach in all circumstances. But I maintain that it is the best approach in some circumstances…perhaps more than we would like to think. Paul was greatly concerned not only at the lack of love being shown to one another, but also for the harm such behavior did to the witness of the church to the community. As I have said elsewhere, what should make Christians stand out is not so much the absence of sin (because Christians are not sinless), but the presence and practice of forgiveness in response to sin; both to our own sin and the sin we see or experience in others.

          Sixth, “Finally, you asked me “why” re: giving up being “right”. I already mentioned the on going damage this idea has done to our family, when delivered as an unexpected wedding “charge” to a husband who must lead. (How can one lead if they always have to be “wrong”? One can’t.) Secondly, our family has a special needs child, which, in turn, has caused some unusual marital stress. Some people in our church did not and do not understand special needs family dynamics. Hence I was falsely accused of “abuse” recently, by a local ministry, where the leader of this “ministry” lied about me on an affidavit. The initial law suit was thrown out, when this “ministries” lies about my family where challenged. I am still working on criminal endictments against the involved church leaders, because, like the pharisees, they are blind guides in their “ministry” to my wife and family. With regard to the involved church leaders, I am in a Matthew 10:16-20 and 26-31 situation.
          One involved pastor keeps trying the “why not be wronged” saw, when he should actually “give up being wrong”.”

          I have a special needs child as well. She has been hospitalized for depression, cutting, and suicidal ideation eight times in the last three years. Both my wife and I have had to deal with criticisms from people in the church who thought they knew better, but were speaking from ignorance. I am very sorry that you have had so much trouble from the church regarding your child. In my experience, the church is often lacking in love and grace to such children and their families. As to criminally indicting your accusers, I leave that between you and God. Unlike many Christians, I do believe there is a time and place for such things. Too much abuse is covered up in the church by misuse of Scripture. That said, I think it should be a last resort, and even if it is taken, forgiveness needs to be given to the offenders, whether they repent or not. Forgiveness makes it possible to heal a broken relationship and makes restoring trust possible, but it does not always remove the consequences of our actions.

          And seventh, you wrote, “One older and better way to express the “give up being right” idea would be “discretion is the better part of valor”.
          I understand, that many times, being “right” about an issue, can be an impediment to resolving it. In these cases, it is “right” to focus on other means to a resolution, rather than being “right” as a means to a resolution.”

          Here, you all but concede the point of my post, and reduce your disagreement to semantics, preferring an older phrase to a new one.

          From what you have shared in your feedback regarding my post, the answers you have provided (which are well articulated by the way), and your personal experience, it seems to me that you have not personally seen much grace. Now, I am not implying in the least that you are not a blood-bought child of God. I am not talking about that at all. What I am saying, is that it what you have communicated to me, gives the strong impression that your experience with attempting to show grace has left you more hurt than healed, and more frustrated than freed; and that the lack of grace you have experienced from your Christian brothers and sisters as you have struggled with the difficulties and challenges of marriage and fatherhood has led you to some misconceptions about what grace is, which has in turn affected your understanding of how to practice it and with whom. Personally, I am not surprised given what you have shared. There is precious little sound biblical teaching on grace out there. Grace is something we talk a lot about, but when it comes to actually defining it, we don’t often have a clear idea of what it means. I would encourage you to read this post to get an idea of what I think your pastor was hoping to see in your marriage.

          https://insanitybytes2.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/learning-grace/

          I would also recommend the following books (if you have not read them already) on the topic of grace:

          Charis: God’s Scandalous Grace for Us
          Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints)
          One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World
          The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith

          I will be praying for your situation at church. It stinks. And is very disappointing to me as well.

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          1. Pastor Dan,

            Thanks for your again considered response, I hope that your daughter, by whatever good means, finds her way to an undepressed state of mind. I am 56, and have a former work colleague with those same depression issues. She is still on the planet, so she found some sort of way!

            One thing I say about Grace, which I think is my own expression is: “Intellect is interesting, but Grace is amazing.” I have seen enough real Grace to know it. I do comment quite a bit on “insanitybytes2”, as A-dad. I do understand that hosts’ Grace story re: her husband’s extention of Grace to her.

            I’ll close with a G. K. Chesterton quote that relates to lack of Grace, where he says:
            “People quarrel because they do not know how to argue.”

            I mention this because my comments to you express my observation that among other things, christians seem not to know how to “rebuke” (argue) properly, and as a response, inapropriately insist on “grace”, when admonition, correction and rebuke are called for.

            I appreciate you responses and will continue to consider them.

            Thanks and Salt, A-dad.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I know exactly what you mean. Too often so called “rebukes” are really thinly veiled judgments instead of corrections given with the intent to heal, redirect, and encourage. I like RT Kendall’s NEED acronym. It is a set of 4 questions to think through before confronting a person.
            Necessary. Is it absolutely necessary for you to point out what is wrong or can it be borne or overlooked in love?
            Encourage. Is what you are going to say encourage the person, or are you going to tear them down with what you say or how you say it?
            Edify. Is what you are going to say edifying and building them up.
            Dignify. Is what you are going to say and how you are going to say it address the dignity of the person as a son or daughter of God if they are a Christian or as a person made in God’s image if they are not.
            If you can answer yes to all 4 questions, then you can be reasonably sure that you are speaking from a loving spirit. If you answer one or more questions no, then you should not say anything yet.

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  2. Pastor Dan,

    Grace I think, is a pretty wide concept. At one part, Grace can be a difficulty that we don’t want, as in:

    2 Corinthians 12
    Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

    In a similar vein, my mother, in her late 80’s, is not doing so well. It will be a “Grace” when she dies.

    It is Grace that God took the execution for sin, that we deserved, on himself instead.

    It is a grace to be well hosted, as a guest.

    Jesus was full of Grace and Truth, both when he healed people, and when he cleared the temple.

    You could say it is a grace not to hold a grudge, but it is also in one’s own self interest not to hold a grudge.

    It is a Grace to be forgiven a large debt. It is not a grace to then turn around and not forgive a small debt, as the un-merciful servant did, to the second servant.

    It was a Grace to the second servant, that the King punished the first, un-merciful servant.

    It is a Grace to correct your children properly. It is not a grace to be un-just to your children.

    It is a grace to be concerned about specks in other people’s eyes, after the planks and specks have been cleared from your own eyes. (Perhaps a motivating concern of pastors and blog commenters!)

    It is a Grace to overlook an offense:
    Proverbs 19:11 A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

    Grace enables people to live out:

    Matthew 7:12
    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

    The above begins to define Grace as I understand it.!

    Liked by 1 person

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