When People Blow It

Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone falls short.  Everyone does something wrong. Everyone sins. Some will make very small mistakes and some will blow it big time. Sometimes people will just choose to do what is wrong. 

That includes you and me. All of us are imperfect.

As the family of God, we have to decide what to do when others in the family of God blow it. Our response will reveal what we really believe about God, ourselves and others. 

Remember, it is central to the purpose of Christian community and friendships to fight for one another to live by love and grace. Even when people fail we need to operate within an intentional relationship of love towards them.

To be a person who lives by grace is to be a person who does not expect perfection or even near perfection from others. It is to be a person who is ready and active in offering forgiveness.

Look at Jesus. He knew that even those closest to him would fail.

In the Luke 22:34, Jesus said to Peter, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today unless you have denied three times that you know Me.”  In other words, “Peter.  You will tell a huge lie today and dishonor me. You are going to blow it big time.”But, Jesus’ response to knowing of Peter’s upcoming failure was not, “How dare you!  After all I have done for you, this is what I get!  In my toughest moment you are going to do something so selfish?  I am done with you!”

I would be pretty tempted to say those kinds of things.

Jesus actually said, “But I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…”He believed in the power of grace even when he knew Peter would fail.

Several years ago I had a significant failure that hurt a number people that I considered my spiritual family. It didn’t look like a big failure on the surface because I was able to mask it in spiritual terms.  But, ultimately I knew what I did was not good.  I felt it and they felt it.  When I realized how selfishly I had acted, I knew that I needed to ask for forgiveness. It was humbling. My spiritual family could have easily responded with a “how could you have done that?” response.  They didn’t. Instead I received this, among many other words of grace, “Doug, I forgive you. I absolutely, with all my heart, forgive you.”

When I think back on that time from over 10 years ago, I still remember the power of those simple words.

Here is the power of forgiveness and grace. People will grow as disciples of Jesus when they experience the grace of forgiveness from you. 

  • When you forgive someone it reminds them that they are not defined by their mistakes and failures.  Or just as important, they are not even defined by their successes. They are defined by love.
  • When you forgive someone it frees them from living in unnecessary guilt and shame. It even creates more space for them to be open and honest with you about their mistakes.
  • When you forgive someone it reminds them that they are not alone in their spiritual journey.  Or even better it helps them remember they are a part of a family that walks with them through their best and worst moments.
  • When you forgive someone it releases you from the temptation of judging others. Or even better, it frees you to live out the love of Jesus more fully.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenges me in Life Together, “Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother…”

Paul states it plainly when he said, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”(Eph. 4:32)

He also said in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently….Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

We have a beautiful and powerful role in people’s lives. We have the privilege of imitating the forgiving love of Jesus and helping our spiritual family walk into the goodness of God’s grace.

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