Friday, August 5, 2016

Grace enables us .......... Parables 467

April 11, 1995

Do you ever wonder how contestants study before going on quiz shows like Jeopardy? They seem to know everything about everything, from Ancient History to Zulu Culture. Some sound like walking encyclopedias. They must read them in their spare time. Some of them must have photographic memories.

Not everyone is like that. A woman told me people often ask her questions but she cannot always think of the answers. What really frustrates her is that those who ask lose interest in talking to her, even if she says, “I’m sorry, I don’t know but I’ll find out.”

In her case, the questions people have been asking are not trivia or facts and figures about history or Zulus. They are asking her questions about spiritual matters, the meaning of Bible passages and issues concerning her Christian beliefs. They usually challenge biblical principles. She wonders how she can be more able to answer questions and refute arguments.

Some might suggest a series of studies where she could learn more and have all the answers. I’ve heard others wish they could memorize the entire Bible or have some sort of Scripture database implanted into their brain.

After talking with this woman, I remember thinking that knowing all the answers automatically makes a person an expert. However, that logic breaks down when it comes to spirituality and to biblical wisdom. Both are different from human expertise because God has a different way to help us answer questions about our faith.

The New Testament book of Colossians says this: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” According to the Apostle Paul who wrote these words, the key is not how much we know but who we are.

Of course being spiritual does not eliminate the need to study God’s Word. It is our source of knowledge and can make us wise. By it we become more like Christ and know more about how God thinks. Nevertheless, being biblically wise does not mean questions will never stump us. No one is so much like God that they know everything!

However, the above verse says that knowing how to answer does not depend on memorizing verses and illustrations or on taking a course in perfect comebacks. Instead, God wants us filled with His grace. Grace can be defined as an acronym: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. It is ‘unconditional love and acceptance or God’s merciful favor.’ Others define it as ‘a revelation of God to the human heart that transforms us into the likeness of Christ.’

Being filled with grace goes beyond receiving grace. It is being in a condition where His grace overflows. People of grace are loving, accepting, and merciful, not argumentative, suspicious or vengeful. They are a blessing to others, including those who ask questions.

God also wants His people “seasoned with salt.” This relates to the properties of salt, a preservative that also makes people thirsty. When Jesus used this term in Matthew 5, He clearly connected it to attitudes such as poverty of spirit and sorrow over sin. He also meant character traits like meekness and purity of heart. These are qualities opposite to assertiveness and demanding one’s rights. When combined with faith, the person who has them is unique and often attracts people who have questions.

Grace-filled people also know, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

That means that whenever demands are made, God supplies the resources necessary to meet those demands. This even includes grace to know how to respond to questions.

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