Spoken six days before the Passover when Christ would suffer on His cross, we sense the determination in His voice. So often He had said to His listeners, “Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Mk. 8:35. Now Christ is speaking to Himself, never allowing any doubt from Satan or even from those who loved Him, to turn Him from the natural and supernatural agony and death He was about to pass through.
Should Jesus bear the cross alone and let the world go free? He did bear the cross alone, the cross of His Father’s displeasure. And “of the people, there was none with Him.” “The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on Me.” Rom. 15:3. Now, for everyone who sees that abundant grace toward them for their sins, a new principle is born in the heart that governs the new life. Grace is so wonderful and amazing that all who know it toward themselves will want to personally give it to others.
When we know the grace of God toward us, that fact reconciles us to Him. We might have learned this young, or it may have taken decades for the Holy Spirit to finally get through to us, but reconciliation or being made right with God is what justification is all about. And when we are reconciled and justified before God, the following is always the case: 1) “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” 2) “We glory in tribulations.” Rom. 5:1-3. There is no other response to God’s love and grace. His grace is so good that nothing else matters. When we get a taste of God’s goodness toward us we can easily say, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto” me, and if they aren’t added to me and I don’t financially prosper in this life, its OK because God is my portion and His mercy and love are all that I need. His grace is sufficient. I can live or die, just don’t let the sense of His grace ever leave me.
If we want to teach others about God’s grace, it must be more than just a theory. They have to experience it in order to know it. Therefore, in order to be qualified as a teacher of God’s grace, we must suffer at the hand of our students, even as our Father has suffered at the hands of His children. This is because grace has not existed unless there has been pain and suffering. It’s only because we hurt God and that He loved us anyway, that He has had grace toward us, and when we knew what He had suffered, then we could comprehend His grace toward us. Therefore, we will have to be hurt in order to forgive, and in forgiving we will teach grace to those around us.
I don’t mean to sound like a glutton for punishment, or a pacifist, or a fanatic. But for too long now, the church has accepted the idea, the theory of God’s grace, and never actually experienced it. So, are you crossed? Are you falsely accused? Is someone gossiping about you? It’s the perfect opportunity to teach them about grace. You will never have a better chance. So forgive them, love them, and act like their trespass never happened. Stun them by your silence and love and acceptance of them. This may require much prayer, but it must be done. And it must be done over and over again. 70 times 7! The more you’ve been taken advantage of, the deeper the lesson will go in their hearts when the Holy Spirit finally decides its time for you to make them aware of their infringements. Only God’s grace in your soul will propel you through difficult times.
If a professed Christian doesn’t want to suffer from others or at least get down to business with Jesus to find out why he doesn’t want to suffer, then its only evidence that grace from God has never covered that professed Christian’s sins or that he has fallen from grace and he is not in good standing with Christ. Here is the big test to indicate who is God’s and who is just acting the part. Are we willing to lay down our life for our brother? If not, our religion is false, it is dross and empty chaff and our name isn’t written in the Lamb’s book of life. “Now the axe is laid to the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Lk. 3:9.
“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?” 1Cor 6:7. The Corinthian brethren and sisters seemed not to have learned what self-sacrifice meant. It makes one wonder why they were admitted into the fellowship of believers. But Paul knew that Christ allows for latitude in everyone coming to Him. Peter fell down and worshiped Jesus at the beginning of his discipleship, but then was up and down in his imitating his Master. But so long as he stayed with Jesus, Jesus could patiently teach him to give up on self. He finally learned the lesson on the very last day of school. Even so with the Corinthians, they loved what Paul presented to them in the good news of Jesus, so he accepted them as saints, even with all their flaws.
But notice how Paul turned them around. He showed them the grief they had given him. He showed how much danger he had faced in working for their salvation. Suffering because of others doesn’t mean we must keep quiet about it. People need to know when they have done wrong. But notice that you never hear Paul complaining about their abuse of him. Yes, he faces them down; but his love for them is evident throughout both of his letters to them. He doesn’t exalt himself when he delineates all that he did for them. His one purpose is the hope that they will turn to him in sorrow and humility. Then he can forgive them, thus allowing him once again to bring them to see the grace of heaven. He comes on very strong, like a father to disobedient children; but he also comes across as humble and willing to suffer more and more for them if need be. And he uses this as the perfect opportunity to teach them to suffer personal grievances and to take being defrauded. The self-preservation has to go! Self must be laid in the dust.
Jesus went to the beatings without a word. “He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.” Is. 53:7. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” 1Pet. 2:22-24, 21.
Do you want to be a worker for Jesus? Do you want to fulfill the Great Commission to teach all nations all things that Jesus commanded us? Nothing gets the attention quicker or brings conviction deeper, than when we get hurt by someone and we treat that person kindly in return. This is what Christian martyrdom was all about. It may be the only chance unbelievers ever have to learn of God’s grace.