It happens. Sometimes in spreading the truth about God, particularly the wrath His Son will one day deliver to the unrepentant, we forget to emphasize God’s grace.
We Christians, the saved, are the recipients of unearned and undeserved divine favor. The Bible teaches that God chose us, His elect, before the foundation of the world. This is a joyous thing. Somewhere along the way, however, we can lose a sense of wonder.
Whether it’s because of personal tragedy or just observing all the sin and depravity in the world, we can become jaded. God’s wrath on unrepentant sinners is very real, and this truth is important. But we should season it with grace.
Pastor Eric Mason wrote at Christianity Today about how he realized that in preaching the truth, he needed to show more grace:
Doing ministry in the city for me has been extremely rewarding, painful, and challenging at the same time. Not for the reasons you might think. I can remember earlier in our ministry in North Philadelphia when I was less knowledgeable of who was in our neighborhood, the changing demographics, and the differing sociological backgrounds of our people. Listening back at some of the sermons from that time is beyond painful for me.
I didn’t realize how much I needed to soften a tone that was rooted, not in Scripture, but in wanting to be accepted by the “more sound,” “theologically solid,” and “exegetically rigorous” spheres of Western Christianity. We had (and have) as neighbors practicing gay and lesbians, black nationalists, atheists, abortion recipients, drug addicts, bootleg entrepreneurs, Ivy League folks, church hurt people, and more. Our neighborhood needed truth that was seasoned by grace.
One of the many wondrous things about Christ is that He reaches us where we are. The unrepentant can be in the lowliest hole in the most degenerate situation. We don’t have to climb out or lift ourselves up or make ourselves presentable before we ask for His forgiveness and accept that He is our Lord and Savior.
I often write about the sin of homosexuality and how disheartened I am that this powerful lobby of a tiny minority of people is weakening the foundations of society and attempting to suppress dissent. It makes me angry, and I consider my indignation righteous. But there’s also grace. God can and does save homosexuals. I’m no more deserving of my salvation than the murderer is of his. Pastor Mason wrote:
Later, many more came and the Lord is teaching me how to graciously engage not only homosexuals, but fornicators, liars, greedy, and others with truth. The apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:11 describes it like this: “And some of you used to be like this.” Many have come to Jesus, and in the midst of it I have found grace to be so amazingly contagious. In light of this shift, God has used that situation to change the spirit of the church into a more gracious community, for which I am ecstatic.
“Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time,” the Apostle Paul wrote. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.