For years I battled with extending grace to myself and to others. These struggles tend to go hand-in-hand. If you don’t let grace rule your life, you won’t let it rule your relationships.
The good news is God freed me from my bondage to legalism, albeit through the school of hard knocks. I learned to offer grace to others and not be so quick to judge their motives or behaviors.
What about y0u? How are you doing in the extending grace department?
How can we learn to offer grace to others? How can we grow comfortable with other Christians that may feel differently about theology or worship styles or maybe even moral issues like drinking or types of music? Here are a few suggestions…
Give other Christians permission to be different from you.
You’re not the only Christ-follower in the world, and neither are you the most committed. Your way of loving Jesus is neither the only way nor the best. If you don’t know that, your Christian world is way too small. Get comfortable with the wonderful biblical reality that Jesus has followers all over the world who are different from you.
Keep your mouth shut and pray.
Before you spout off to someone about their behavior, or worse, before you spout off to a third party about that someone’s behavior, pray for them. If you’ve got a problem with another believer’s actions or beliefs, take it up with God. But don’t talk about it.
Remember that God is still working on others, and on you.
Philippians 1:6 reminds us that salvation is a process. No one is ever completely saved and sanctified until he gets to heaven. So give him some room to not have fully worked out all his pre-Christ wrinkles. He’s not perfect, and neither are you.
Practice the discipline of confession.
Confession is good for the soul. It’s also really good for a legalist. Being brutally honest about your own sin gets you in the habit of not trying to spot that speck in your brother’s eye while you’re tripping over the telephone pole that’s protruding from yours. Getting real about yourself will keep you from getting on the case of others.
Keep your mouth shut and pray.
Did I mention that you should never slander or gossip about another Christian? Don’t talk about him, pray for him.
Know the difference between the Gospel according to the New Testament and the Gospel according to you.
It’s good that you have strong convictions about certain things, and you need to live your life accordingly. But not all Bible-believing Christians agree on everything, especially when it comes to what’s right and wrong. Classic “grey matters” like drinking, dancing, music styles, worship styles, types of dress and make-up for women, what’s permissible entertainment and what isn’t, home schooling versus private versus public, and even political persuasions may not be as clear-cut as you think they are, or as you may want them to be.
Be biblically literate enough to know where the Bible draws clear lines around certain beliefs, practices and behaviors, and where it doesn’t. God may indeed convict you that a certain behavior is wrong for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s an open and shut biblical case. So don’t judge others who believe differently.
Keep your mouth shut and pray!
Did I mention that already?
Want to know more about overcoming legalism? Check out my best-selling book Ten Things Jesus Never Said, and Why You Should Stop Believing Them.