Recently, we have seen a series of prominent Christian leaders falling from grace publicly. We often like to think of ourselves, our friends, our families, our leaders as decent people and above reproach. Generally speaking, we are honest, relatively kind, and mostly trustworthy. But we all have serious character flaws. These flaws prevent us from being as good as we think we are. Many a time we do not even recognise that these flaws even exist. And thus, we all need a renewed emphasis on character in our lives. God wants us to be wholly virtuous people as he designed us to be. Yet we have a long way to reach there. There are two such gaps in character that we specially need to watch out for.
First, a gap in words and deeds. Any wise person, particularly leaders, should keep an eye on any gaps between what they say publicly and how they live privately. When we preach grace but lose emotional control ourselves, that’s a gap. When we teach honesty, but our personal finances are a mess, or engage with aspects of life that do not have integrity, that’s a problem. When we say we care about people, but make no time for anyone, that’s an issue. Never say publicly what we are unwilling to live privately (1 John 3:18). Make sure our talk matches our walk. We need to be honest about any flaws we have, and speak from our weaknesses as much as our strengths.
Second, a gap in giving grace. Although we may maintain high standards of spirituality, if we have less grace, mercy or favour to give, it’s a clear sign that our character needs some serious work. It is a sure sign that God’s grace is in short supply in our life. If we need more grace, then we need more of God and more of his character to be reflected in our life. The Hebrew word chanan (favour) is loosely translated as “finding favour” or “mercy”. Many times, we attribute this quality to God and stay away from doing it ourselves. “Finding favour” is not only from God; people often sought and found favour with those of higher status around them. For example, Jacob sought reconciliation with his brother Esau and found his favour (Gen 33:8, 10). Ruth found favour with Boaz (Ruth 2:2). David found favour with Jonathan (1 Sam 20:3). Esther found favour with King Ahasuerus, who made her queen of the Persian Empire (Esther 2:17).
In each instance, the Bible reminds us that those on the superior side granting favour had the power to judge, condemn and destroy those of an inferior position. Instead, each showed grace and favour by helping the other in their time of need. God is undoubtedly at work—and grace, compassion, and favour are inadequate to supply in these instances. We often judge others in their sin and distress. We drive them into rejection and destruction. The Scripture reminds us that we could show chen and reach out, help them and lead them to better places in life. We should also show the same grace to others that we have experienced (2 Cor 8:9). May the Lord help us to abound in the qualities of grace and mercy in our lives.