Change of Focus

For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. – Romans 6:14

“Welcome to ___-mart, can I get you a buggy?”, if you remember hearing that, then you know there has been a significant change in focus for that establishment. No longer are you greeted when entering the store. Instead you are checked when leaving the store. Still an employee, but now armed with a yellow highlighter, ready to catch someone in the act of theft. Granted, theft is a huge issue and companies lose millions of dollars annually, however, I don’t believe that theft is any bigger than in the past. Maybe I am being naïve, but it is definitely a change in focus. Instead of greeting new arrivals, the company demands that the employee be on the lookout for criminals.

The church can be just as guilty of this. Instead of welcoming new members to the body, we can focus on being  the lookout for members of the body acting in a “less than perfect” manner. Almost armed with a yellow highlighter of judgment, we can ready to jump on the “offender”.  Often we trade in grace for a policing mentality. Just as the theft in the store probably hasn’t increased, the amount of sin in the believer probably hasn’t increased. We all wrestle with sin. Yes, sometimes is it outright rebellion and defiance which needs to be confronted. The Bible tells us clearly to address this issue, but not for judgment. We are to do it as a teaching point. We even have clear direction on how to do this. (Matthew 18:15,16)

But before this, Jesus tells us something much more important in dealing with confronting others is their sin issue (Matthew 7:4,5). Specks and planks, we all get the concept, but do we practice it. Not perfectly, but our Father doesn’t demand perfection, because we are incapable of it. He commands us to become more like Christ every day. As with anything else, we need practice. Practice must be intentional. Professional players don’t practice during a game, they practice away from the game. We aren’t in a game, we are in a battle. A battle in which the enemy that wants us to judge one another.  Satan wants us to place shame and blame on each other, that’s one of his best tools. Grace, that is what we are to practice. So, the question comes up, how do we practice?

We can practice by offering grace in situations that might not engage another person directly. Watch the news. See someone who did some horrible thing, and offer grace. Instead of cursing a driver cutting us off in traffic and offer grace. When someone says something against us, don’t even speak…just offer grace. By practicing, we can be prepared to show that grace when we are put in a position to give it in such a way that it reflects Christ.

I recently read a book written by a former teacher where one of the characters asks “are you looking at the end of Jesus’ finger, or where He is pointing?”. Are we looking at the behavior of each other as a rating of how “good” they are at being a Christian, or are we looking for a place for us to serve and offer the grace He has so abundantly given us? Are we offering the buggy of His supply of Grace, or are we standing at the door with the yellow highlighter of judgment? Do we need a change of focus?

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