I am a forgetful person. I forget to do things that I have told others I would do. I forget why I went to the kitchen. I forget where I put my keys. And there are times when I forget that I too am a sinner saved by grace by the goodness and loving kindness of God. I am justified not by what I have done or don't do but by what Christ did on the cross. When I withhold mercy from others I am forgetting that mercy that God gave freely to me in Christ when I was deserving of wrath instead. Don't begin to think of yourself as matured beyond certain sins especially if it makes you seperate yourself from the unbelievers who need the Gospel. And don't wall off certain Christian brothers and sisters who are still struggling with sin and need discipleship, exhortation and mentoring. Above all allow for the fact that people sin and some have more notorious pasts than others. We never take a light view of sin because God takes it seriously we must as well. But we must remember that God forgives sinners and gives us grace and mercy. If he forgives the vilest repentent sinner then we can do no less ourselves. There are those who have seen me do things in the past that I know that they can not look beyond. In spite of evidence to the contrary that those things are in the past they hold a low view of me. Probably always will and a cold shoulder from them is likely to continue indefinitely. But you know what, we are called to carry the gospel to sinners. That's right those who steal, cheat, lie, murder, perform evil acts, and to violent offenders, drug adicts, alcoholics, profane, wife beaters, rapists, deviants, depraved, lazy, selfish, rude, hipocrites, excons, prisoners, homeless, rich, poor, greedy, double-minded, idol worshippers, new agers, democrats, repubilicans, communists, dictators, tax collectors, pharasees and Christians who don't like us. There are unbelievers in need of Christ and there are believers in need of encouragement, exhortation, discipleship, fellowship and teaching. We miss the whole meaning of the mercy of God when we exclude taking and living that message out before all men. We never did or didn't do a thing to be saved in Christ. In fact everyone was a sinner when Christ saved them. And He calls us to tell others of this Grace. Paul reminds us of these things in Titus.
3:1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. Titus 3:1-8
As Paul stated 'we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by othes and hating one another.' He makes sure we know we are justified by his grace to this eternal life that we have. From there he reminds them of these things:
1. submit to those in authority. 2. be obedient. 3. Eager to help. 4. Not spreading gossip. 5. To avoid fighting. 6. To be kind to one another. 7. And a tall order to be courteous to all people. No exclusions are given based upon past sins, race, religious affiliation, political leanings, current sins, etc. The list is endless... ALL PEOPLE. He closes the reminder saying that they are to 'insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works.
LORD help me to live up to these reminders to be courteous to all people. Don't let my pride stop me from reaching out to others with the message that salvation is in no one else but Christ. Thank you for your mercy and grace and your Holy Spirit which helps me to live obediently to your Word and to serve you and others. Put aside my prejudices, my reluctance to serve you wherever and for who ever you call me to tell of the wonder of Christ. Help me to pray for those who are are struggling with sin and its power. Help me to love my brothers and sisters in Christ when they fail and to forgive and encourage them toward maturity and faith. Help me to share your Son with them. AMEN.