15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15)
To understand the grace of God, first we need to understand a few other things: justice and mercy. Justice is getting what you deserve, mercy is not getting all you deserve, and grace is getting something that you don’t deserve at all.
An example: Let’s say we’re a star basketball player who violated curfew. We show up the next day at practice and the coach lays down the law. Justice is this: we deserve to run 20 laps. We broke the rules, we made the decision to take the consequences that come along with breaking the rules.
Who makes the rules of life? God.
Who breaks them? We do.
The crazy thing is that even when we decide to break the rules and take on the consequences that come along with breaking the rules, God still wants to spend eternity with us.
Now mercy’s a little different. We’re the same basketball player and after running ten of our deserved laps, the coach gets someone else to run the other ten that’s due. That’s mercy. You see, 20 laps is still the penalty, but we are not stuck paying the entire price. In fact, the coach himself runs for us.
Now, this illustration doesn’t apply to hell. You can’t run ten laps in hell and then get out for the final ten. It doesn’t work that way.
Now, how do we come short of grace? Two ways: a non-believer can miss eternal life through Jesus Christ if the Book is right. Now, it might be wrong, but the odds are very, very, VERY slim that it is. If you’re only betting a buck on the lottery, then bet away; but if you’re betting your soul’s eternity, logic, history and odds say that you better not bet against the Bible. The cool thing is that God offers eternal life through His Son even now.
You can also come short of God’s grace as a believer. If you live a life where there is no fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness or self-control, then you can miss it.
The same three things that can keep you from accepting Jesus as your Savior are the three things that can prevent you from leading a life as a powerful believer. These three things are: a root of bitterness, immorality, and Godlessness.You see, pride of life and root of bitterness go hand in hand. Think about the last time you got mad and reconstruct the emotion that immediately preceded your anger. It was probably some combination of hurt, fear, frustration, injustice or tremendous sense of loss or grief. Hurt almost always produces anger and the anger is almost always directed at the object that is the perceived root of the pain. Much like when someone uses up all the hot water and leaves you with nothing but a cold shower. You don’t get mad at the water, you get mad at the guy who took all the hot water!
Now fear. This is why we step on spiders. I’m afraid of spiders. They must be crushed.
Frustration. When we get stuck taking that cold shower, with a spider crawling around the tub, we get frustrated. Then angry at the guy who took all the hot water!
Feelings of injustice. When someone kicks a poor, defenseless little puppy for no reason, we get mad because it’s just not right and someone needs to come to the puppy’s defense. This, too, results in anger.
Now, let me make this clear: Anger is not a sin. It’s a symptom that something is wrong and needs to be fixed. In fact, there are times when something is wrong and if you don’t get angry, THAT would be a sin.
When Jesus was personally affronted, He did not get angry. But, when God was insulted in His presence, Jesus always got mad.
And there are some things going on around us that if you don’t get angry, something’s wrong. And you won’t be motivated to go and fix the things that are wrong unless you’re angry. Our problem is knowing how to approach this anger without venturing into sin.
26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity… 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
That’s the anger progression. It all starts with a root of bitterness, a grudge, an unwillingness to forgive. And whatever it is that causes the anger settles to a grudge, then it becomes a sin.
The bright side is we can turn to 1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
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