Saturday, July 08, 2006

Evidences of Grace

Today's Topic: Scriptural Serving

Yep... I'm a loser.

I lose things. All the time.

Yesterday, I lost a book. I took it with me to work, so that I could read over lunch. I couldn't find it at lunchtime, so I thought I must have left it in the car. I went to the car at the end of the day and didn't find it there, so I thought I must have left it at home. I got home and couldn't find it there, so I thought maybe I took it into my office and lost it under the piles on my desk.

Now, it's just lost.

I'm definitely a loser.

I'm dissapointed, not because I'm a loser, but because I lost the book, Humility, by CJ Mahaney. I had been anticipating reading a chapter titled Encouraging Evidences of Grace in Others.

The chapter is based on a phrase that CJ coined, "evidences of grace," and that he has solidified through various messages on 1 Corinthians, one of which is called Grace and The Adventure of Leadership.

Here's my recollection of that message:

In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul sets an example for us on how to encourage people. The church at Corinth was doing much that required correction. 10:17 says, "But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse." Nonetheless, Paul was still able to find good things to say about them and to them. This is from chapter 1:
"I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge--even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you--so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
How is it that Paul could say that this church was "enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge...not lacking in any spiritual gift?" He could say that because of the faithfulness of God. Paul believed that any evidence of God's work was worthy of remembrance. And the result is frequent and sincere thanksgiving to God.

CJ's challenge to us is this:

Follow Paul's example and look hard for how God is at work in others, even the people who are "difficult." Encourage them for what you see and give thanks to God for that grace.

He would ask us this question:

What are you more aware of: others sins or shortcomings, or the evidences of God's grace in their lives?

This has been a life-reshaping perspective for me. What a joy it is to see God at work all around me, even in the most challenging situations and with the most challenging people. It brings me hope and faith and gratefulness and love for others that I never experienced before.

Here are some evidence of God's grace today:
  • I had lunch with a man who has leadership gifts and a love for children. And he is excited to serve in a significant, sacrificial way to make our children's ministry more effective than ever. Only God could give that heart.
  • I had a discussion with a dad whose 18-year-old son seems to be off-track a bit. But his son still loves to serve and has expressed an interest in taking membership classes even with hesitations about the church. Only God is keeping him from disappearing altogether.
  • Tomorrow, I have a new intern starting. He'll be digitizing sermons, both audio and video, as well as helping with some other technical projects. He wants to give away 40 hours a week to the church. Only God could motivate such sacrifice.
  • This week, 15 of the finest high schoolers in our church will be running tech for Summer Celebration, our kids camp. Only God could provide 660 man-hours of near-professional level production by teenagers. All we're provided is a pizza lunch, a bit of fun, and whole heap of hard work.
I could go on. But here's the take-away for me: I need to make sure that I tell all these people that I am grateful to God for the works of grace He has done in their lives. And then I need to give thanks to God over and over and over for them.

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