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Thursday: We Are Recipients and Givers of Grace — 9 Comments

  1. When I was a primary school pupil, a playground fight always attracted a lot of attention. A couple of students would take a swing an one another with their fists; the cry would go out, "Fight! Fight!" and every student in the school would come running to watch the fight.

    Conflict attracts attention, even in the bird world. I saw a pair if blue-faced honeyeaters, who are very aggressive birds, having a scrap over the possession of some food, when they were joined by some Australian Magpies who took an active interest in the fight.

    We love conflict. In our church circles, if you want a big attendance at a business meeting, make sure that there is something controversial on the agenda. And, I can name and detail the major church conflicts that we have had during my lifetime. Conflict comes with accusations, ad hominem arguments, and so on. How many times have you heard the accusation that so and so is a Jesuit mole?

    I think Paul had a pretty fair idea about where the church was going to go after his generation passed from the scene. Doctrinal disputes, ethnocentric interests, power groups and all the other competitive a conflicting interplays that were going to confront the organisation and operation of the "church".

    And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:32 NKJV

    Anyone who is married knows that sooner or later you are going to disagree with your spouse. The danger is that those disagreements become an accepted way of operating to the extent that they displace love. That is when we need to be "tenderhearted and forgiving". The same principle applies to our church relationships with one another.

    Jesus died for us while we were sinners, in conflict with him. Our response should be that we are willing to forgive others when they are still in conflict with us. That is tough love.

    • Amen to this idea of "Forgiveness." Even Peter tried to get Jesus to only go with "Seven times" on this, but Jesus told Peter to go 70 times 7 and then went on to tell Peter the parable of the subject to a King that owed that King a debt that he was unable to pay (which represents our inability to pay God for our sins and also our claim to Eternal Life in His Son Jesus.) I always take from this parable of Jesus that His challenge to Peter to forgive 70 times 7 was because Jesus and His Father are already doing this very thing in how they are always forgiving us each day and every moment of every day towards us and our deficiencies; and that is how we are to deal with each other every day and every hour of every day. And that is how we husbands should deal with our wives and each other and if we Seventh Day Adventists would do this we would have less divorces than the world has now.

  2. Indeed"tough"love. Couldn't be better said. I have come to think that Forgiveness is at the core of salvation. In numerous situations that could be considered atrocious it cannot be human to forgive. It takes more. A spiritual combination. And more. An emptying of self first. We are more "Jonas" than we imagine. How many times we refuse the "voice" to pardon or reconciliation? Sometimes we sit under our tree of hurt souvenirs loaded with fruits and only we know how to eat them. If the tree is not cut down we will remain in its shade of bitterness.

    "Transcend" is a word I love but I prefer it in French, "transcender". It's a whole story. I learnt it from a prof that never taught me but he was so famous for his courses that students would do much to get them. It was very difficult to get registered for his classes it was always over booked. One could stay in the corridor to listen. "Transcender" was one of his favourite words. At home when I used it, before I could finish my daughter would say, "Oui, Monsieur Coulon" (yes mister Coulon).
    To transcend above a situation could mean you have already taken a certain distance and can relate to whatever on another level. You are above it and in control. Decisions are yours or you have strategy to influence or not. You understand.

    So to love is a decision. It is no Romeo and Juliet story. Mister "Coulon" says, that Romeo and Juliet's story could not last. I will not say why. If you love you will know.

    I have some questions: Does one have to love someone to forgive? Can one forgive without loving? I mean to forgive but hold the person in total abstraction as though the person does not exist. Like, it's not that person with whom one would go on vocation. Like, they make one feel uncomfortable in the same room. Like when one sees them one feels the hurt.
    One word, transcend. Is this enough? I can say no. The beginning is Jn.3:16
    We were His enemy when He died for us as you already pointed out earlier.

    "Love thy enemy". I think this is "tough love". May He who is LOVE, Jesus, help us to fulfil His will.

    • Beverley – thank you for sharing your insights with us; I enjoyed reading them. I also see that “forgiveness is at the core of salvation.” I suggest to consider to go further and say that ‘forgiveness is the core of salvation’. We cannot remain in our old nature’s disposition of being ‘judgmental’. Our new nature expresses love through forgiving; or, if we do not forgive, we do not love. Love and forgiveness are synonymous.

      To “transcend’ or “transcender” if you prefer, surrenders to the Holy Spirit the place of judgement. We, our old ‘self’ – is being removed from ‘getting involved’, it becomes neutral. We then can focus on, as you stated: “you are above it and in control. Decisions are yours or you have strategy to influence or not. You understand.”

      My thoughts to your questions:
      ‘Yes’ - forgiving is the expression of Love, and ‘No’ - one cannot forgive without loving.
      I consider that when we do not ‘like’ a person, we are called to ‘transcender’ to the place where we are ‘non-judgmental’ – neutral, so allowing the ever present Holy Spirit to express Himself instead with all the appropriate ways which manifest/demonstrate God’s compassion and understanding.

    • Thank you Beverly and Maurice. The word transcend or self-transcendence denotes the fact that the more one forgets himself - by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love - the more human he is and the more he/she actualizes himself.

      Though this is from a psychology point of view but it has some Christians school of thoughts. It said that what is called self actualization is not an attainable aim at all but a side effect of self-transcendence. One of the ways to achieve self-transcendence is by experiencing something or encountering someone. May God help us...

  3. As I have recapitulated this quarters lessons this week, I ran across a verse in Philippians that must have been on Paul's mind as he wrote Ephesians that sumerizes his longing for those he worked for, to stay firm in their relationship with Christ.

    Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
    Philippians 4:9.

    That includes relationship with husband's and wife's and families in general. No, we did not see Paul with a relationship with wife, but we learned from him in Ephesians 5:21-33.

    If you have trouble remembering the order of Philippians, Galatians, Colossians, and Ephesians in your Bible, just remember. GE. PC.

    Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.
    1 John 4:7.

  4. The Holy Spirit stands ready with arms and protection at any time and anywhere He finds us. Eph.4:32 - …. “forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” is a statement which deserves deep reflection. Forgiving is a state of mind, a humbled spirit expressing itself knowing who we are in Christ, where all of us came from, and where we want to go - give Grace!

    We were called out of darkness to project the Light of God’s Love and Grace to the world around us. We ought to refrain entirely from throwing ‘stumbling blocks’ into each other’s way, but rather be supportive and uplifting, encouraging each other toward a higher, more closer relationship/presence in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior at all times.

    We all still learn, we all still stumble, we all forgive and want to be forgiven – we are all brothers and sisters growing in the Graces of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior; if we are willing, the Holy Spirit sees to it that our growth will be accomplished.

    We are not our old 'self' that followed the winds of shifting doctrines of man; we have been born again into the never changing, heavenly Light of Truth and Love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ unto the Glory of God our heavenly Father!

  5. "...he who loves his wife loves himself... and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:28, 33)
    "...a Christian husband and wife focus on valuing and treasuring each other, becoming "one flesh"..."

    These two phrases may seem very direct to a relationship between a couple, but in the end, they also relate to any relationship. Of course, the relationship in marriage and the degree of intimacy is unique, and it should be a blessing to those engaged and those around them.

  6. God does say that He will have mercy upon thousands who fear Him but He in no way will clear the guilty. Yes, we are to be like God in forgiving our enemy 70 times 7. But our enemy has to seek forgiveness from us. Jesus also said not to "Cast our pearls before swine..," and also to be "wise as serpents but harmless as doves." Tough Love will never be an "Enabling Love." Tough Love will never behave in a way to allow others to continue abusing us or even themselves with mean and destructive behavior.


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