Grace Gone Wild: Embrace the Gift
- Friday, October 07, 2005
Let grace guide your church life.
While bad grace says, "I don't need to join a church," good grace says, "God has provided a church for me to join." Know that church provides the instruction you need for your spiritual growth, the accountability you need when you wander, and a more powerful witness to the world than you can have as just a believer on your own. While bad grace says, "I can miss church as often as I want," good grace says, "I should attend as frequently as I can." Understand that your presence in church makes a difference to others, and in your own spiritual development. While bad grace says, "I can give as little as I want," good grace says, "I should give as much as I can." Understand that everything you have belongs to God, you should seek the highest rate of return with God's money by investing in what has eternal value, and a tithe should be the starting place for most Christians. While bad grace says, "I don't have to do anything in the church," good grace says, "God has given me the privilege of serving somewhere in the church." Understand that every Christian has been given a unique spiritual gift or gifts, your spiritual gift(s) are to be used in a local church, and fulfillment comes from using your spiritual gift(s).
Don't use grace as an excuse to avoid necessary church discipline.
Understand that discipline is necessary to restore a Christian who has been overtaken by sin, maintain a church's witness, and sustain the health of the entire congregation. Be willing to confront those in your church when you need to do so. Realize that the degree to which you confront another Christian should be determined by the kind of offense committed. For personal offenses against you and sin that you observe in another believer's life, talk privately with the person involved first. Make sure that you genuinely want to restore your relationship with the person and that you're motivated by a sincere concern for the person's spiritual health, not simply a desire to shame or punish him or her. If the offender is unwilling to repent after a private conversation, take a small group of people with you to talk with him or her. If the person is still unrepentant, report the situation to your church's leaders (or, only if absolutely necessary, the entire congregation). As a last resort, remove the offender from the congregation. Realize that this last step is usually necessary only when someone continues to threaten your church's moral, doctrinal, or emotional health.
Use good grace to help you maintain a healthy balance between freedom and obedience. Resist judging others unnecessarily; keep your focus on your own spiritual walk. Refuse to trust in works for salvation, yet recognize your obligation to obey God.
Adapted from Grace Gone Wild! Getting a Grip on God's Amazing Gift, copyright 2005 by Robert Jeffress. Published by WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc., Colorado Springs, Co., www.waterbrookpress.com.
Robert Jeffress is pastor of the 9,500-member First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, Texas, and the Bible teacher on the internationally broadcast television program "Pathway to Victory," seen on more than 1,100 cable systems and television stations. A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Jeffress is the author of 14 previous books.
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