I Am A Sinner Saved By Grace
But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. — Acts 13:45-49
Notice the progression of the response here. For Jews, it's — jealousy, contradiction, and rejection of the truth. For Gentiles, it's — salvation, rejoicing and spreading of the truth. The same message is received in two different ways by two different audiences in this small town. And because of this, there is a sharp division between Jews and Gentiles. Imagine how this might have felt. I think it might have felt a lot like the division we feel politically in our country right now.
But you'll notice God's "chosen people," the Jews, are given the right of first refusal to the gospel. Yet, they end up rejecting the message of grace. And why? The reason is both complex and simple. And can be retraced to a single word — pride.
Pride is what keeps us all from accepting our need for change. We become committed to the way we understand life. Thus when someone says we might be doing it wrong, this can be challenging to our egos. It might lead to feelings of incompetence, uncertainty, and insecurity. In some cases, we might even speak defensively or act combatant. In any event, it results in two outcomes — repentance or resistance.
And for the Jews here, it resulted in resistance because their pride ran so deep. The pride regarding their heritage, history, customs, practices, and laws was too great to accept the good news of the Gospel in the way Paul taught. It was too consequential to believe that grace was being extended to all mankind and that there was no longer any need for the systems and processes they had practiced for hundreds of years. In addition, they had to accept that their arrogance participated in the death of the Messiah. And now this new revelation meant that their faith which had been exclusive to them, was now becoming inclusive to all nations, including Gentiles. And the thought was too difficult to comprehend.
But God's grace is possible to know. We know it by setting our pride aside. And pride is set aside by acknowledging this belief — I am a sinner saved only by God's grace. And Paul wants his Jewish brothers to acknowledge this. But they cannot bring themselves to do it. They cannot accept it at this point. Their pride runs too deep. So now Paul turns his efforts to the Gentiles who are ecstatic about the opportunity to receive God's grace.
Fellas, don't let your pride get in the way today. Pride is insidious. You have to always be giving it needed attention. Preach to your pride when it begins to manifest itself. Lay down your pride when you feel challenged by someone. Pursue truth when you feel a defensive pride come over you. Go to battle with your pride before you become apathetic to its attraction. And then, if all else fails, simply say this aloud. I am a sinner saved only by God's grace.
ASK THIS: Where are you proud that you may need some humility? (Share it in the comments below)
DO THIS: Say this five times out loud today. I am a sinner saved only by God's grace.
PRAY THIS: God, I need more of you and less of me.
PLAY THIS: I Surrender.
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