Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grace with Space

I recently read the account of Stephen who was murdered for his faith (Acts 7). His last words on this Earth just before he died at the hands of the angry people who hated him and were killing him were, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" (Acts 7:60). Wow. What faith, grace and spiritual maturity. I am not there yet.

Still to this day, there are people and certain types of people that I am not very comfortable around - whether due to personality conflicts, past difficulties, temptation, misunderstanding, etc. I don't want to be judgmental or unkind, but at the same time, I don't want to put myself in situations that are questionable, potentially sinful, or ones that I cannot handle well "at this time."

I know that I have a lot of work to do as a Christ follower and "recovering" adulterer and "sinner." I am still a work in progress, regardless of how much growth I have experienced this past two and a half years. I am  overcoming years of personal and spiritual neglect. I want to keep moving forward and let God have His way in me - fully. Surrendering daily to Him is crucial. I wake up every day needing to remind myself of my need for Christ.

One question that I ask myself and God often is, "How do I do relate to people that I have difficulty being around, shouldn't be around, or need "time off" from, in a God-honoring way?" This week the thought came to mind that seems to help me process and understand this. Hopefully it is God speaking to me and not my flesh. Three words that gave me some clarity:

Grace with Space.

With God's help, I can offer grace and/or forgiveness, while maintaining personal space. I may not spend time with this person, become friends with them, or ever want to be around them, however, I can still have a spirit of grace. Or, when I take time "off" from the relationship, I can work on me and determine best what God wants to show me. He may say that the relationship is permanently over, or He may say wait a while. Or, He may be waiting on me to submit to His will and not "run" from His leading.

As the book by R.T. Kendall called Total Forgiveness teaches:
  • Forgiveness is not approval. 
  • Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. 
I want to continually pray through this issue and situation and honor God in my words and deeds. I definitely struggle to know how to best handle this type of matter. I never want to be judgmental and lack compassion, though I know I am capable of doing so. I also don't want to let guilt, temptation, or fear keep me from setting appropriate boundaries and walking in His freedom and truth. 

Colossians 3:17, English Standard Version (ESV)

17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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