Friday, July 19, 2013

Are You Holding Someone Up to an Unrealistic Standard?

It has come to my attention that I hold people up to an unrealistic standard. Really, I hold them up to my own personal law. When people offend or hurt me, I have a difficult time forgiving and not holding a grudge.

Why do I do this? It’s because, as so many theologians have noted over the centuries, we humans are addicted to law keeping. And we want others to live up to the law as well. 

As Christians we know that God holds the whole world up to his standard, his law. That is, he requires that we be holy as he is holy. And he, as the ultimate measure of justice and holiness, is required to hold us up to this standard because of his perfect nature.

But we also know that God has forgiven us of all our sins “…by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

Through Christ, we are no longer under the cruel task master of the law. Rather, we debtors to grace because of Christ, to serve in the newness of life because of our righteous-ification, and walk in the good works God prepared in advance for us to do (through his Spirit).

But practically, I have a really hard time actually showing God’s grace to others. I like to keep other people in the very place I was before I was saved--under the law. This was difficult for the Disciples too.

On one occasion, Peter asked Jesus how many times he must forgive his brother who sinned against him. And Jesus responded: “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Basically, forgive your brother ALWAYS.

Jesus launches into a parable about two men. One man owes 10,000 talents to his king. A talent was worth about 20 years wages. If a year’s wage is $50,000, ONE talent would equal $1,000,000!

This man pleads mercy to the king and the king forgives the whole debt. But the second man owes the first man 100 denarii. A denarius was a day’s wage. Even after being forgiven his monstrous debt, the first man will not forgive the second, and tries to throw him into prison.

What does this show us about the first man?

I think it obviously shows us that he doesn’t treasure the king’s exoneration of his debt! If we have been forgiven so much, shall we not forgive others?

The people who hurt and offend us do so in such little fashion to how we hurt and offend our maker. This all comes down to our understanding of grace. How much do we believe God has forgiven us? How great was the debt paid for our sin on the cross?

For our sinful natures, forgiveness and bearing with others is a tough pill to swallow. But with God, all things are possible.

Do we hold people up to an unrealistic standard? Do we expect them to be perfect, or at least nearly perfect? Do we expect them to do all we want them too? Are we annoyed when they fail? Can we not forgive when they hurt us?

This is not how we learned Christ!

Let’s remember to forgive our brother seventy-seven times seven. Because God’s done that with us. In our flesh we could never do this, but the Spirit has set us free! Let’s use that freedom not for evil, but for good! 

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