Day: June 20, 2011

grace without guilt … when you’re frustrated

I can’t tell you how often I find myself feeling stuck, irritated or frustrated.

I know I need to guard my heart here. Apparently, anger becomes more and more of a temptation the longer someone stays in Christian leadership.

And that freaks me out.

The way we respond to frustration says a lot about how we’re approaching life. And what passes our lips is usually a pretty accurate barometer of this.

Think about it.

What’s your knee-jerk response when things don’t turn out how you’d hoped?

Complaining? Blaming other people, the circumstances or yourself?

Here is where Ephesians 4.15-5.20 speaks its message of grace and power.

It’d be easy to overlook the focus in this passage on how we use our mouths. But that would be a mistake. One that would mean we’d miss the liberating potential of this vision of a people of pure speech.

Christians are called to speak the truth in love to each other. To put away all falsehood and speak plainly to their neighbours.

Their words are to give grace. And build others up.

They’re to be marked by thanksgiving not obscenity, emptiness or vulgarity.

And they’re to sound like we’re filled with the Spirit.

But the engine room of this transformation is the new identity God gives those who are united to Christ (Ephesians 5.1-2):

Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

This is such profoundly good news!

Through Jesus, God makes us his dearly loved children.

That is why dealing with frustration so that our speech can be transformed and purified isn’t about following the rules. It goes far deeper than that.

At the same time, it doesn’t flow naturally from our hearts without further ado. We’ve got to learn how to imitate God by loving and giving ourselves up for others like Jesus.

And this has a pretty steep learning curve.

 Because it demands that we look to our gracious Heavenly Father rather than any merely human person to meet our true needs.

For there’s nothing else that can displace our natural Self-centredness apart from God-centredness. Not even Other-Self-centredness.