"RELIGIOUS PEOPLE" are very often "mean people"... Please understand, it is because they have to be.
Whenever you have people living by a code that they cannot keep there will be in those people a sense of failure. This, in turn, will breed the need to look at others to see if they can do it better than others, and thus feel better about themselves. Living by codes, therefore, breeds a spirit of competition and whenever there is competition, there will be the desire to win and not lose. Such a one will then naturally compare themselves to others with the accompanying necessity to put the other down and exalt themselves.
We see this "competitive spirit" in Luke 18 when the pharisee exalted himself and all the good that he had done over and against the "sinner" and all the evil that he had done. Even a cursory reading reveals the ugliness of this religious and competitive spirit.
This is why grace is such an incredible necessity for the body of Christ to live in harmony. Grace puts every believer on the same playing field. Grace removes the competitive spirit because it also removes the code by which we seek to exalt ourselves at the expense of others. Grace, when it is really understood and appropriated can only lead to the exaltation of one individual --- the person of grace ---Lord Jesus Christ.
ALL OTHERS are humbled in the presence of grace.
Sadly, there are people who are making "grace" the new law, using grace as a new standard by which to measure others and put them down for their lack of understanding and as a tool to exalt themselves for their enlightened understanding. Such "grace" is no grace at all but the spirit of religion and competition wrapped up in the glory of grace, which in fact distorts and corrupts grace so that it is no longer really grace at all. This is religion of the worst kind...and it too is mean!
The real test of whether it is grace we are proclaiming is that Jesus will be exalted and we ourselves humbled by the glory of real grace. If a man or woman is really walking in true grace, mercy and compassion will flow from their lips and lives and others will always feel safe around them, even those who disagree with them.
Have you ever noticed that even the enemies of Jesus felt safe approaching Him?
Do you want to know if you are walking in real grace? Ask those around you if they feel safe in your presence. If they can relax around you. If they can let their hair down and just be themselves in your presence. Ask them if they feel like they have to guard their words and actions around you, and give them the freedom to answer honestly.
Rich Mullins wrote these words longing to see the glory of the kingdom in the people of God:
"I see a people, who have learned to walk in faith,
with mercy in their hearts and glory on their faces..."
I too long for the day to see the body of Christ expressing such glory ---
When the mercy of God flows freely from the lips and lives of the saints of God.
MAY WE BE A GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL PEOPLE!
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