I remember my first steps in Christ. I stumbled quite often and repeatedly put my foot in my mouth. I had come from a very angry mindset filled with fury, cursing, and a dislike for life itself.
Prior to walking in Christ, I would go to church because my girlfriend (now my wife, Joy) was going to church. I had no interest in God, but I had an interest in Joy and wanted to know more about what she believed. Every time I would go I would hear words from the pulpit I never would have imagined about God and I was treated with much favor by people there at church.
Even though my attitude, actions, and my mouth would not be inline with what Christ represents, the grace I was shown by others who did not call out my defects of character helped create a transformation in me that to this day is still continuing.
I learned what grace is and how it is imparted to another person, although it took me years to be able to show it in my own life unto others and even unto myself. The result of the grace I received is a transformed life that is always looking to please God.
“Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’ This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.”
“So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?'”
“She said, ‘No one, Lord.'”
“And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'” John 8:2-11.
We always look to the life of the disciples to see how a transformed life is in Christ. However, it took the disciples a long time to have the confidence in their new life. They argued. They doubted. They were afraid. They hid.
Looking at the example of Mary Magdalene, the woman who was caught in adultery, we can find how grace is implemented and how the response of that grace is shown in the life of a follower of Christ.
When Mary had been brought in to be stoned, I do not believe that her foremost thought was asking for forgiveness because she was sorrowful for her sin. I believe, and this is my opinion, that she was sorrowful that she got caught and that she was now afraid of dying by the hands of these men. But Jesus, knowing the potential of all His children, never lost hope in her good works. Works that would be a result of someone that has tasted the grace of Christ. Works that would not be done in order to be saved, but works that would be done as a result of being saved. Works that would exemplify a life saved by grace and they would come from the heart and not the mind. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9.
When Simon had invited Jesus over to his house for dinner, Mary heard He was going to be there and came to Simon’s house. She dared not to sit at the table, but she sat at Jesus’ feet, behind Him. With her tears and her hair she washed His feet and then poured an alabaster of fragrant oil over His feet. The books of Matthew and Mark say that she anointed His head, but the book of Luke says she poured it over His feet. Both are probably correct. Some in the room were rebuking the act as a waste of resources that could be sold and given to the poor, while others looked upon the act with indignation saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” Luke 7:39b.
So Jesus tells Simon a story about a creditor and two debtors and then He says to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” Luke 7:44-47.
The aroma of Mary’s faith in Jesus and her love for her redeemer permeated the room in the act of honor for her Savior.
While the disciples were not too visible with their love for Jesus because of what they feared from the church leaders, Mary displayed a life that was not ashamed of her newfound Savior. While almost all of the disciples were staying far away at the crucifixion, it was Mary at the foot of the cross, sorrowful for her Savior’s death (John 19:25). While the disciples were hiding for fear of falling into the same fate as Jesus, it was Mary who came to the tomb first. It was Mary who first saw Jesus. It was Mary that Jesus first spoke to that resurrection day. It was Mary that told the others that He had risen. It was Mary’s love for her Savior that made her unashamed of Him and because of this, Jesus rewarded her with these firsts.
How is our faith permeating the rooms of our home? How about at work? Do people smell the aroma of our faith everywhere we go? Can people see the grace we have been shown and our appreciation for that grace? Are we too quick to condemn others instead of showing a grace that reverses a life of sin in someone else? “As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” 2 Corinthians 6:1.
Grace is the unmerited favor from God to us. Grace is not an excuse to sin, rather it is a reason to not intentionally commit sin. Because of the unmerited favor God shows to each of us, we need to show that same favor towards others. Instead of immediate condemnation at the knowledge of other people’s sin, we should bestow grace upon them so that they may turn from sin. Too many times we forget the intention of this verse, “…why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5. A great introspective approach to life can help us understand the grace that God imparts to us.
I am glad that when I first started coming to church, no one decided to clean this “fish” (me) first. Many people like to clean the “fish” but they don’t want to take the time to catch them. Often we are too quick to correct and condemn those who are in need of Jesus. What we see in the example of Jesus is a life that expounded His grace upon others. Many showed the reception of His grace by the life they lived in serving God and serving others. And there were many who decided that it was too much to receive and too much for them to give. But that is the choice that God gives to each and everyone of us. Our job is to show that His grace is available to everyone and that it is indeed, sufficient.