by Joel Lawler
God gave Solomon a choice. He asked him if he could have one thing, what would it be. Solomon answered that he wanted wisdom. God was very pleased with his answer and his wish was granted. Solomon was the wisest of the wise. His proverbs have been printed, learned and recited for thousands of years. They are chalked full of wisdom.
As I think about this question, I might have answered it differently. Looking at my life, I think I would say grace.
I desire to know that no matter how bad I screw things up, God will forgive and love me unconditionally in spite of my failings.
Some think Jesus softened the ten commandments. They must not be reading the same passages I am. Jesus said if you hate your brother, it is the same as murdering him. Murder? Really? I would like to take pride in the fact that I have never murdered anyone. Hated my brother? Well, who is my brother?
Jesus gave an answer that in a way that makes this problem all the worse. My brothers, sisters are you. Everyone. Hate, well, um done that. I get pretty heated at people and I can be very impatient with others.
I recently took the Myers-Briggs personality test. I scored very high as an INTP personality type. In the weaknesses listed in this personality type there were several that nailed me far beyond my comfort zone. "The INTP resists and rejects anything that doesn't support their own experiential understanding of the world. If they perceive that something is not logical, they reject it as unimportant… They reject people who think or live differently than themselves…They may be extremely caustic and insulting to others…."
I would love to write here that I am the exception, but unfortunately people who live with me read this article and know the truth.
The honest truth is my desire for grace needs to go multiple directions. I need to give it far more than I do. I am very hard on others. The very people Jesus says to love, I tend to be frustrated and less than gracious with.
I wonder if there is a direct connection to the amount of grace we can receive to the amount that we are willing to give others? Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." He also said, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
Once again, Jesus is not pulling punches. He is laying it out there very clear for how we are to treat others. While I would like to hide behind my personality type and claim that this is "just the way God made me," I know that this is not what God is calling me to. His standards are high, set and unmovable.
There is a lot of controversy with the topic of grace. It creates a real problem for people who wish to use "the fires of hell" as a tool for controlling an other's behavior. Much of what is called religion is manipulation. When grace is the center of faith, it removes control. The leader no longer can use fear to bring about their desired behaviors. Their message is not God's message and their hearts are not aligned with God's heart.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote in the book Laminations - "The Lord's loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning."
It is great to know that our God extends to us much needed excessive, absurd and reckless amounts of grace.