I am blogging early this week because I will be out of town later in the week. I was reading a sermon by Dr. Fred Craddock recently and something he said made me think, wow. In case you did not know, Dr. Craddock is perhaps the most important preacher/professor of homiletics in the last 40 years. This sermon was entitled, "On Being Gracious" based from Luke 6: 27-36. The text is Jesus' sermon on the plain (remember Sermon on the Mount is Matthew).
The scripture reads, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. But, love your enemies, do good and lend, expecting nothing in return...for God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."
In these words, we have before us a profound challenge. Jesus sets the bar high for He asks us to live not as we want to, or not just as humanity deems as right...but to live and love as God does. We are to be kind and to love others because we are children of God. We are to be kind and to love others because we are called to be merciful just as the Father is merciful.
Dr. Craddock concludes his oration with one thought..."The final work of grace in anyone's life is to make a person gracious." Did you hear that? Read it again..."The final work of grace in anyone's life is to make a person gracious."
In other words, while salvation is important...that is not the end. Ultimately, as an answer to God's grace and in response to the cross, we must be gracious to others. We must allow God to work in our hearts and lives changing us from the inside out so that we can be a little less like us, and a little more like Him.
I leave you with a question: are you gracious? Are you kind and loving even when there is nothing you will receive in return? If so, then good, because you are doing what you are supposed to do. If not, well then you know God has a little bit more work to do in your life. For me, I am certain that we are works in progress and have a long way to go. But the good news is that God does not give up on us, and though we fail, we can begin again. Be gracious church, because when you are, you are becoming more like Christ.
Thanks for reading as always,