08/24/T – Grace and Good Works

Jeremiah 51:54-52:11; Titus 3:1-8; Psalm 99:5-9; Proverbs 21:30-31

NT: “Remind them to submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people. For we too were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved by various passions and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, detesting one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us  —not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy  — through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He poured out his Spirit on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior so that, having been justified by his grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy. I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed God might be careful to devote themselves to good works. These are good and profitable for everyone.” (‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭CSB)

Paul instructed Titus to insist on the Cretan believers treating the non-believers in the community with mercy and grace. Paul wrote that they were to submit to the ruling authorities and obey. Are there caveats to that charge? Yes, there are – but more often than not, submitting to and obeying authorities does not require you to disobey God. The believing community was to reject slander, avoid fighting, and engage everyone with kindness and gentleness. Why was that so important? God had engaged them with kindness and gentleness, and had shown them mercy and given them grace when they were foolish, deceived, enslaved to sin and hateful. Despite their depraved state, God loved them, saved them, cleansed them, renewed them and abundantly filled them with His Holy Spirit. As people of God and ambassadors of Christ, they were to treat the unbelievers in their midst the same way God had treated them. It was also important that the Cretan believers kept themselves from getting caught up in worldly concerns and devote themselves instead to good works. If instead of treating the people around them with mercy and grace, they engaged the world in the world’s attitude, they would get sucked into all the drama of the world and would get distracted from the works that God had called them to.

As we look objectively at the church in our day, are we heeding Paul’s insistence? Are we peacefully submitting to our rulers and authorities? Are we engaging those in the world with love and kindness? Are we treating those who are opposed to us with mercy and grace? Or are we constantly pushing back and railing against our authorities? Are we slandering those who disagree with us? Are we getting involved in fights and arguments of all sorts? Are we keeping the good works of God (seeing souls saved and disciples made) as our devotion, or are we getting caught up in all the cares and drama of the world? Are we treating others the way that Christ has treated us and representing Him well, or are we no different in attitude and action than the unbelievers in the world? If we are heeding Paul’s instruction, then we need to keep at it by grace until the end. If we are not, we need to repent and return to the grace and mercy of the Lord and the works He has called us to do.

Psalms: “Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at his footstool. He is holy. Moses and Aaron were among his priests; Samuel also was among those calling on his name. They called to the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them in a pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees and the statutes he gave them. Lord our God, you answered them. You were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their sinful actions. Exalt the Lord our God; bow in worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭99:5-9‬ ‭CSB)

We are called, as people of God, to exalt (lift up on high) the Lord God and bow ourselves at His feet in humble, reverent and submitted worship. Moses exalted he Lord above everyone and everything and humbled himself before God. Samuel did the same. Through their honor and humility, God heard them, responded to them, showed them mercy and forgiveness, and gave them grace beyond their abilities. A key part of exalting and worshipping the Lord involves honoring and obeying the Lord’s word, will and ways. If we claim to honor the Lord, but do not honor and obey His word, will and ways; then we are not exalting Him, nor are we bowing before Him in worship. Instead we are exalting ourselves and standing before the Lord in pride. God shows mercy and gives grace to those who truly exalt Him, bow before Him, and do the good works He has called them to do.

Prayer: Lord, I thank You for the mercy that You have shown me and the amazing grace that You have given me. I thank You, that though I deserved condemnation, You engaged me with love and kindness – and through that love, You saved me. After being shown so much mercy and given so much grace, how could I justifiably treat others any differently. Help me by Your Holy Spirit within me to treat others with mercy and grace, and stay engaged in the good works You have called me to do. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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