John 13:12-17, So when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

The theory of forgiveness is wonderful. Practicing forgiveness is hard. The theory of compassion is wonderful. Practicing compassion is hard. The theory of mercy is wonderful. Practicing mercy is hard. The theory of grace is wonderful. Practicing grace is hard.

Why is it so difficult to be forgiving, compassionate, merciful, or a person of grace? Why? Because you forgive those who hurt you, show compassion to those who offend you, show mercy to those who do not deserve kindness, and give grace to those “who do not deserve it.” If I do not deserve it and receive it, it is wonderful! If you do not deserve it, why bother?—You are just getting the consequences you deserve!

The standard is not “us.” We “measure up” pretty well to people. What is the standard? It is what God did and does for all in Jesus Christ. That is one standard above all of us!

In the above passage, Jesus completed the undesirable, humiliating task of washing feet. He asked the twelve, “Do you understand what I did? I gave you an example. And you are not superior to me. So…’put your money where your mouth is.’”

Satan constantly (all our lives!) places us in circumstances that demand we validate our theory by our behavior. He did with Jesus and will with us. He did with the twelve and will with us. He did with the 1st century church and will with the 21st century church.

It is easy to declare God’s love for all, but can be demanding to take God’s love to all. It is easy to declare that God champions the weak and helpless, but demanding to care for them. It is easy to declare kindness to all, but demanding to be kind to all. It is easy to declare God’s caring, but demanding to be an agent of God’s caring.

Matthew 5:43-48, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

It is simple to become God’s child. It is demanding to live as God’s child.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 9 March 2006

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