It [lavish grace] teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:12
You’ve joined a group of friends for lunch. The conversation turns to a book one of them has read. There is encouragement for everyone else to read it because ‘it’s so good!’ But when you hear the title, you realize it’s not something you can read because of your love for Jesus. At this point, you have a choice. You can say nothing. You can be vocal on your disapproval of the content. Or, if asked, you can say that you don’t want to engage with it because you know it would hurt your relationship with God.
I’ve spoken to others, many times, in a way that falls in the second category. The spirit of judgement begs me to speak up in order to elevate myself and to make others feel dirty. The temptation to be ‘above the rest’ is a hard one to resist. I’ve got to remember that when I state my convictions, void of any mention of my love for Jesus, I repel others.
In the previous verse, Paul reminded Titus that the ‘grace of God appeared’ in the person of Christ. It’s that stooping of Christ to be tender to me that teaches me to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passion. Any self-control I have is not because of an extraneous code of convictions. Abstaining is not because of a set of rules. It’s my response to a collection of personal experiences with Jesus where He intersected my life with outrageous acts of grace. He stooped, called my name, lifted my head, and offered something priceless.
The lump in my throat still exists and continues to shape every decision I make. A life changed by the kindness of God, in Christ, is the one that draws others. A rigid rule-keeper does not an evangelist make!
Oh, the temptation to be a Pharisee. I’ve done it, and I still do it. I will review your lavish graces for yet another day. Amen