Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Grace Extended — Grace Rejected
Luke 7:29 (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism.
Luke 7:30 But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
Thousands of people had flocked to hear John the Baptist preach as he called the people to repentance. Tax collectors were considered to be the very worst of the very worst, and yet they were willing to listen to John’s preaching and repent. God was justified in his action against the Israelites for they had been disobedient. By being baptized these people acknowledged God’s justice, their need for repentance and received God’s grace reaching which was extended to them.
The religious officials, by refusing the baptism of John also rejected God’s grace. God’s desire was to reach out to them and to save them. Even now they had witnessed the Messiah standing before them but the more grace was extended, the more it was rejected. Their egos would not allow them to accept that God’s judgment would be upon them for they, and the people of Israel, had been unfaithful to God.
Have you ever tried to reach out to someone in need, to offer them grace, only to be rebuffed? It seems that this happens often in ministry, especially with those who are really struggling to get out of sinful habits. One of the worst that we confront these days is the problem of addiction to internet porn. Even when trying to provide counseling services and methods of accountability there are those who will either refuse to admit that it is a serious problem or think they can manage it on their own. Grace has been extended, but grace has been rejected.
Unfortunately it is often our ego that gets in the way of accepting the grace that God extends to us. How many have stubbornly refused to follow Christ simply because they believed they could do a better job of managing their own affairs! What folly. Ultimately the Pharisees lost everything by trying to compromise with the political powers of the day and rejecting their Messiah. They went so far as to crucify the one who came to save them. Talk about grace rejected, and yet, don’t we do the same every time we refuse to acknowledge the justice of God and the grace that he is extending to us?
Every single day God is reaching out to us with his gracious acts of love and mercy. Some days he uses different people and circumstances to be channels of that grace and we simply need to open our eyes and recognize the ways in which he is reaching out us. Don’t reject him for your own purposes — it’s not worth it!
Lord, please help me to witness to your grace today. Amen.