26 But don’t be conceited or make others jealous by claiming to be better than they are.
Galatians 5:25, Contemporary English Version
I am concerned for believers who get so upset and self-righteous towards other believers who have difficulty in living out their lives in the light of the grace message. With the same attitude of the Pharisees, these believers like to measure others against their own lofty standard of grace instead of God’s. In doing so, their lack of humility and pride actually turns so many people off or makes them so uncomfortable with the gospel that they have actual misgivings about God’s grace.
Nowhere in the Bible does it state that we can be dismissive of people who are a bit slow in understanding grace. Though the Apostle Paul was upset with the Galatians for forsaking the gospel by reverting to the law; he actually took extraordinary steps to remind them of what the gospel was, and more importantly the Person of Jesus Christ so to safeguard their faith. He also warned believers not to act arrogantly in wanting to prove who was more correct in their interpretation of grace.
While we endeavour to grow a true community of grace in Firstlight, not everyone is going to get it right straight away. Even for those of us who understand grace, we still need time to “work out” what God has “worked inside” us (cf. Philippians 2:12-13). As such, in our journey towards maturity in Christ, we must expect obvious inconsistencies in our habits and thinking.
Inconsistency is not hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is an outward appearance of spiritual health with no inward spiritual life. This was the problem of the Pharisees. They thought they were fine with God, but they were actually spiritually dead and as a result, they never looked to Jesus to give them life and life more abundantly (John 10:10).
We can’t call sincere believers “hypocrites” whenever they messed up, especially if they are learning to depend more than ever on the power of God’s grace to help them. It is not our place to judge but to embrace them with grace. Bear in mind, God’s grace is not for the perfect, but for the imperfect. In short, that’s us. Moreover, God’s grace has the supernatural power to change us from being imperfect to become perfect in Christ.
© Copyright Richard Tan, 2019.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®.
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