843 Acres: The Love of Receptive Grace

by Bethany

M’Cheyne: Job 11 (txt | aud, 3:59 min)
Rom 15 (txt | aud, 7:59 min)
Highlighted: Rom 15:1-3

Relationships: How can we live together with people whose beliefs, practices, and views deeply distress or offend us? How do we relate to them, care for them, and even love them? Tolerance is the answer that our culture gives, but the gospel gives a different one.

Love: As we saw yesterday, there was a dispute in the church of Rome. Some people believed that their Christian commitment restricted them from eating “unclean” foods and, therefore, they ate only vegetables. Others, including Paul, however, disagreed. Tolerance would have told Paul not to make any negative evaluations about the beliefs of others, but Paul did not do that. Instead, he said that those who agreed with him were “strong” and those who disagreed with him were “weak.” Yet he didn’t stop there. He told the strong to be driven by love, not selfishness. He wrote, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself.” [1]

Receptivity: Tim Keller says that the solution to the weakness of narrow-mindedness is not tolerance, but receptive grace, which does not enter into the distorted or erroneous thinking of the weak, but instead bears their weaknesses. [2] He says that this happens in two ways: (1) the strong intellectually enter into the weaknesses of the weak—making negative evaluations as necessary, but doing everything possible to understand and sympathize with them, and (2) the strong also personally enter into the weaknesses of the weak—becoming willing to change their own behavior to serve and love the weak.

Prayer: Lord, We confess that we are often driven by selfishness, not love. We frequently think of tolerance as the ideal, but it is not. Give us hearts that discern what is true and then to enter into others’ weaknesses intellectually and personally. For Christ did not please himself, but was wounded for our weakness to make us strong. Therefore, make us love receptive grace. Amen.



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[1] Romans 15:1-3a ESV | [2] See Tim Keller. “Receptive Grace.” Sermon. February 10, 2002.

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