Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5 For each one shall bear his own load.
We’ve spent a lot of time looking at how we should understand grace for ourselves in order to be free from bondage to religion or the world’s system of thinking and operating. This is important. However, the purpose of getting free is so that we can then be effective ministers of grace to others. It’s about living grace.
Religion would kick the man in verse one while he’s down. It would remind him that he failed and is unworthy. In his failure, we could be tempted to feel good about ourselves. But grace understands that we are just as susceptible to failure as he is. With that in mind, grace reaches out in restoration. Not only does it reach out, it helps him up and then allows him to lean on us until he is able to stand on his own. In doing this, we fulfill the commandment to love each other as Christ loved us.
The minute we start thinking highly of ourselves, there is danger. It means that we’ve forgotten that grace is freely given, not earned. What happens so often is that people come to Jesus and receive salvation and restoration from brokenness, and then before long start to imagine that the success they are having now is due to themselves. Pretty soon, they are looking down their noses at everyone who doesn’t seem to measure up. Paul says that this is self-deception.
If you catch yourself thinking that way, that’s a big warning flag that grace is slipping from clear focus in your life. Paul explains in verse five that we have responsibility for how we manage grace. Do we remain grateful for it and extend it freely to others, or do we decide that we have grace because we deserve it?
We are forgiven of sin. We are also accountable for how we handle grace. Grace should bring about maturity. It is immature to blame others for our failures or mistakes. Likewise, it is immature to judge others for their failures or mistakes. The person who is braving grace takes responsibility for his or her own life.
Living grace means helping others overcome weakness while carrying the knowledge that our freedom comes from Christ alone. In short, living grace means being humble. Brave grace today as you remember where you came from, rejoice in the grace that set you free, and be quick to extend it to others.