Grace and Consequences

August 2, 2013

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Many times grace receives the label of cheap or sloppy.

We then attempt to manage, limit, or even control the dispensing of grace for fear people might abuse it.

Grace and consequences are not opposed to each other. Forgiveness is not the absence of consequences. Pick any Biblical character and see the “pain” and implications their sin caused. Sometimes, the consequences did not even stop in their lifetime, but continued on through the generations.

David was forgiven for his sin with Bathsheba, but his family spiraled out of control afterward.
Abraham helped God out and created Ishmael, rather than waiting for the promise. Issac and Ishmael are still fighting today, thousands of years later in the modern conflict between the Jews and those of Arab descent.

Forgiven yes. Free of consequences – not in the least.

One of the best leadership thoughts I have heard in a long time came from Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend in the excellent book, How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth

They say, “Decide what standards, confrontation, and reality are appropriate for the settings you facilitate. The community should not shield people from reality. The key is to bring those standards to them in way that lead to grace, not farther from it.”

Grace and Consequences are not opposite, but partners.

Leaders, Parents, Teachers, shoot anyone! READ it Again! It’s deep!

Do we shield our people from reality? Do we lead people to grace or to law?

We cannot merely dispense “get out of jail free” cards, but rather help others get to the need for grace through confrontation, reality checks, consequences, and discipline.

Too often we employ only one tactic as leaders.

God is a God of both and balance. It’s not grace or consequences, it’s grace and consequences.

Cloud and Townsend also say, “Sometimes we must help people get to a death experience for grace to take effect and growth to begin…let them reach the end of themselves.”

We cannot protect our people, our children, or our ministries from the implications of sin or poor decisions.

“Allowing people to suffer logical consequences is another way of getting them to realize their need for grace.” (Cloud/Townsend)

Titus 2:12 tells us, “grace trains…” That training is active. Any training requires hard work, pain, and uncomfortable feelings.

As gracious parents and leaders, we must allow people to experience the consequences of their actions.

Yes, we forgive them. We don’t hold failures against people or use them as tools of manipulation to keep our followers under our thumb.

Yet most lessons in life are best learned with a certain degree of pain.

Grace, coupled with the reality of life, becomes a powerful combination which leads to our growth.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God