It’s throw back Thursday. Here’s an oldie but goodie from October, 2012.

The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 19:1-2 (NIV)

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

Paul makes clear in Romans 1:19-20 (NIV) what creation speaks and what knowledge it imparts.

What may be known about God has been made plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

But God was not satisfied with just allowing us to see His signature on creation. He went deeper in revealing Himself through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He went deeper in revealing Himself to His servant Moses, and revealed His love and faithfulness by bringing Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into freedom in the Promised Land. Through miracles, signs, and wonders, Hew revealed His power, might, righteousness, grace, mercy, and a singular commitment to keep His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He wrote the Ten Commandments and gave them to Moses and revealed His character through the giving of His Law.

But God was not content to stop revealing Himself by revealing His Law. He continued to go deeper in His self-revelation by sending prophets, priests, and kings whom He used to speak His Word to Israel, to be their representatives to Him, and to lead His people in life and work.

But even this was not deep enough. God wanted to reveal not only His mind, and heart, but His very Self. He wanted us to see not only His works and miracles; He wanted us to see Him with our eyes. And so He sent His Son, Jesus Christ.

Through Him we saw more than we ever wanted or hoped to see:

We saw the glory of a life lived fully in God’s grace and truth.

We saw Him live a life that God called us all to live in His Law, but because of our sin, never could and never would.

We saw just how lost and dark we are.

Left to ourselves He was detestable to us. His light seemed to us to be darkness. And even though we had no reason, we tried Him, condemned Him, abused Him, and murdered Him in the most brutal way we knew.

And yet God used our sin to bring about His will. 700 years prior, so that there would be no doubt or question, Isaiah 53:10 (NIV) declared,

Yet it was the Lord ‘s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

But even sin is no match for God. Where we showed we deserved nothing but death, God brought divine wrath, justice, mercy, and grace together making forgiveness of sins a reality. God supernaturally opens our eyes to this truth: that, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

Now God is not known from the outside, but is known from within, because His Spirit lives in His people, uniting them to Him. This union reveals Him even more deeply and intimately than ever before. It is not only content to reveal more of God to us, but it draws us nearer to Him, changing and transforming us from the inside out so that our love, our character, our actions are driven by an ever growing passion for His glory.

And now we know that even all The Father has done up to this point was not enough. He plans to go deeper still. Soon and very soon He will bring His kingdom to completion and we will see the Father, the Son, and the Spirit even more clearly, hold Him more dearly, and know Him more completely, so that our love for the Triune God will be pure, spotless, and perfectly in harmony with His love for us.

And I am sure that even then, He will find a way to go deeper in His revelation to us.

I for one, look forward to that.

I hope you do to.

Walking in the Valley of the Shadow, Part 5

This is an old post. But I have been recently helping some people who reminded me of it. Dealing with people who are hurting is part of the Christian life because it is life. We need to do this well. Unfortunately, too often we don’t. I leave the post as I wrote it better than three years ago.

In conclusion to this series of posts on what I have been learning about how to (and how not to) walk with people who are deep in the valley of suffering, I want to focus on this thought: when someone shares with you that they are in a great darkness of soul, I have been learning that there are some things you should just not say, no matter how true they may be. In a way, I guess this might well be an expansion on the need for discretion.

Often times, when we meet with people who are dealing with serious pain (i.e., divorce, abuse, a friend who committed suicide, a son who died from drug addiction, rape, addiction to alcohol, drugs, porn, etc…), we (especially we pastors and particularly us Reformed pastors) are tempted to respond by delivering loads of truth instead of loads of grace.

“But isn’t the truth good? Don’t they need to hear it?” Yes it is. And yes they do. But what truth do they need at that moment? It may well not be the truth you are thinking of sharing! I don’t know about you, but when someone comes up to me and says, “I need to tell you something in Christian love,” what follows is usually neither Christian nor loving! The truth is, we can do a lot of damage in the name of “truth.” Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV),

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Often we Christians run right to verse 6, Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, and assume the loving thing to do is always to highlight and expose sin, bad theology, and bad habits that may have led to or be adding to the pain the person is experiencing.

I submit that in light of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, if the “truth” you intend to share does not exhibit God’s patience and kindness, it isn’t loving to share it. If the “truth” you want to share comes from pride in your own spirituality, it isn’t loving to share it. If it dishonors them instead of encouraging and respecting them as God’s son or daughter, or at least as a man or woman made in His image, it isn’t loving to share it. If it is born out of the response of a quick anger, it isn’t loving to share it. If it reaches back into the past and rehashes past mistakes, sins, or poor choices all over again, it isn’t loving to share it. If it intends to hurt them (i.e., delights in evil), it isn’t loving to share it. If it is not from a motivation to protect them, to build trust, and to increase their hope in God, it isn’t loving to share it. And if it isn’t loving, you should not say it, no matter how true it is (or you think it is). Oswald Chambers was right when he said,

The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting and wounding.

If we correctly understand the truth of Scripture, we will be living it out ourselves; and if we would be people who are living out the truth, we will be full of grace, because that is what the truth teaches. 1 Peter 4:8 (NIV) says, Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. God does not jump on us every time we sin or do something stupid. We should give the same grace to others. Let God deal with the convicting of sin; that’s His job, not ours. Be willing to work with people where they are at, instead of insisting that they come up to where you are at (or think you are at!). Focus on being a gracious presence to them. You will be surprised how quickly the things you are concerned about get addressed when you focus on caring for them instead of fixing them.

Controlling the Tongue

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

The Hebrew word that is translated “pierce” is the same word for running a person through with a sword. What a vivid image of the power of words! We sometimes use words like daggers or swords. You know what I am talking about. We have all been on the receiving end of a verbal assault that cut right through us. And, if we are honest, I suspect we have all let the arrows fly from our tongues as well. Words are, I have been learning, are the most underestimated of weapons.

Words can pierce like a sword but they can also bring healing. The Hebrew behind the words “brings healing” literally means “an effective medicine or cure.” Words can be the most precious of gifts. All of us have, I hope, experienced this as well: words from a family member or friend that were so well chosen and well-timed that they seemed to breathe new life and energy into your soul: “I forgive you,” “I believe in you,” “There’s nothing you could do or say that would make me stop loving you.”

Words are very powerful things. They can bring life, or they can bring death. How we speak has a definite and profound impact not only on ourselves but the people around us.

Our words need to be life-giving and not life-draining. This attribute of speaking well of others is clearly expected of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments.

Proverbs 4:24: Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.

Ephesians 4:29: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

James 1:26: If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

I don’t know about you, but when I read passages like those, I get two very distinct sensations: First, God makes it very clear that I am supposed to keep a tight reign on my words and make sure that when I speak I am bringing life into the person or persons I am speaking to. And second, I am very joyfully humbled at God’s forgiveness because I am guilty of wounding many people with my words.

  1. When this attribute of speaking well of others is absent, God withholds His blessings. Consider Jesus’ own words in Matthew 12:36-37:

But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

God has not forgotten even the least hurtful word you or I have spoken. You say, “Pastor Dan, I thought we were justified by faith, not by works. How can we be saved or condemned by how we speak?”

When you have the Spirit of God living inside you, He reveals Himself through what you say and do. Speaking well of others does not earn you forgiveness. Earned grace is a contradiction in terms. But speaking well of others is a sign that you do have God’s Spirit living inside you. Speaking well of others does not earn forgiveness but God’s forgiveness always works to produce the habit of speaking well of others.

When we do not work with God’s Spirit by learning this habit, we are inviting certain things to happen:

First, by not making the effort to speak well of each other we are breaking the cardinal rule of human relations: people thrive under praise and deteriorate under criticism. When we are not in control of our tongues, we are literally inviting stress into our lives and the lives of those around us. We limit our effectiveness in our relationships and influence with others. We stunt our ability to lead and to work together. We are inviting God’s discipline because we are basically saying that we don’t believe God when He says:

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.

Proverbs 16:27 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.

Matthew 5:8 God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.

I have said before that when someone comes up to me and says, “Brother, I need to share something with you in Christian love,” what follows is usually neither Christian nor loving! This is because sometimes we get so caught up in “truth” that we forget about “grace.” We sometimes adopt this “the end justifies the means” mentality when we talk to each other. We are so driven by the conviction that “they need to hear the truth,” that we don’t stop and think about the cost our words come with.

It doesn’t matter how right you think you are, or how wrong you think someone else is, if you speak to them without a double dose of grace and mercy, you will almost certainly make things worse instead of better.

Speaking well of others means…

  1. Thinking before speaking. Proverbs 10:19, When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. We all give lip service to this truth but we often give ourselves a pass from following it ourselves. I remember a few years back when I was in the middle of publishing my first book, Finding Freedom in Forgiveness,  I received an endorsement for my book from a nationally known author and speaker. As soon as I got it I sent it to my managing editor at Harvest House and asked them to let me know if I could use it. I did not hear back from her right away, as I usually did. I started to get annoyed. After a week I was beginning to feel ignored. As I was thinking about writing something to find out what was going on, I thought about how I was not the only project she had and I should be patient. I decided not to write anything and wait a while longer. About three weeks after my original email I got a response. She apologized for not getting back to me. She had not been in much in the last three weeks because her oldest sister died three weeks ago and her mother died last week. Boy, was I glad I held my tongue. She did not need to hear from a high-strung, want-to-be-author, she needed love and support. Think, really think, before you speak.
  2. Choosing words to build others up rather than words to break them down. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, encourage one another and build each other up. Easy to say, hard to do. Yes. But God is concerned about what is best for the people we are in relationship with, not what is easiest for us. The Holy Spirit’s job is to correct and convict. When we do that, we are putting ourselves in His place. Our job is to encourage and build each other up. That saying in AA is very good Scriptural advice, “Let go and let God.”
  3. Focusing on what is good and positive. Philippians 4:8, Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Look for the good in others and praise them for it. We are masters as catching people in the wrong. We need to be twice as proficient at catching people doing right. Everyone is a sinner. No one is perfect. But everyone has good qualities that we can highlight. Everyone has talents and gifts that we should admire and thank God for. I know what you’re thinking. You’re saying to yourself, “Yeah, well you don’t know so-and-so, and the sooner God takes them out of my life or out of my church, or out of my business the better.” Bah! That is foolishness! They are made in the image of God, that alone is praiseworthy. Every person you meet God placed in your life for a reason. And chances are, one of those reasons is so that you can be learning to love and appreciate them.

(Edited and expanded from a post back in  December 8, 2013).

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.

Grace Should Not Be Just an Abstract Idea

When we read about Jesus forgiving the “woman who lived a sinful life” (that’s code for irreligious, obviously immoral, and likely sexually promiscuous), applaud her boldness in coming to Jesus, we give our approval to Jesus’ gracious acceptance, forgiveness, and defense of her. We are more than willing to accept Jesus’ grace ourselves. The problem comes when we realize the point of Luke 7:36-50 is that Jesus expects me to live in such a way as that woman would come to me knowing she would find that same kindness, grace, and defense. If we knew how broken and messed up we are and the mountains of grace needed for ourselves, we would not be so stingy with it. Just sayin….