Summary: In living a gracious life, Christ calls us to die to self.

This is the final message on “Finding Freedom In Forgiving Others.” Last time, we began a consideration of our text by noting how Jesus speaks to us about the nature and the benefits of gracious living.

Jesus says gracious living is non-judgemental, accepting, forgiving, and giving. Such a life will be characterized by relationships with others that are blessed.

Let’s consider two other things our Lord tells us about gracious living.

3. The requirement for gracious living - vs. 41-42

What is required to live the gracious life Christ calls me to?

An awareness of my own faults!

It is only when I have first dealt with my own faults that I am in a position to help someone else deal with theirs. We are to help one

another deal with faults, but we are to do so graciously, not judgmentally. We need to be careful to be aware of our own faults and shortcomings as we seek to help others out with theirs.

A serviceman wrote about something funny he witnessed in the army. In happened during a company inspection at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. An inspection was being conducted by a colonel. Everything had gone smoothly until the officer came to the man standing next to the soldier who recalled the incident.

The colonel stopped, looked the man up and down, then snapped, “Button that pocket, trooper!” The soldier, more than a little rattled stammered, “Right now, sir?” “Of course right now!” Was the reply. Whereupon the soldier very carefully reached out and

buttoned the flap on the colonel’s shirt pocket.

We need to check out our pockets before we can help others button theirs.

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” - 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

4. Our motivation in gracious living - v. 39-40

Our motive in living graciously with others is that as we learn to do so, we are becoming more like Jesus!

“Contrary to what you may have heard, God’s highest purpose for you is not to make you comfortable, wealthy, and happy. If you have put your faith in Him, He has something far more wonderful in mind for you - He plans to conform you to the likeness of His Son.” - Ken Sande

We are never so like Christ as when we are non-judgmental, accepting, forgiving, and giving of time, talent or treasure to bless others.

“God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending His Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.” - John 3:17 (The Message)

The Father sent Jesus into the world not to condemn, but to save. Therefore, the life of Jesus was one that demonstrated the love and grace of God to others. We are called to be the same way in our relationships with one another.

The world today is turned off by Christians who will not get along. Who bicker and fight, who demand their own way, who will not forgive and who will not reconcile, even if it means that churches split and people go to Hell. The world easily sees the hypocrisy of such living by those who profess to follow Christ. Why can’t we as Christians recognize it as well?

No wonder Jesus describes His followers who do not live the gracious life He calls us to live, “blind.” Blinded by our self-centeredness, we are absolutely incapable of leading anyone else, whether they be a person who needs to believe or a believer who needs to grow any closer to Jesus! Oh, may our eyes be opened to see the need for us to learn to live in a gracious way toward one another!

“Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, ‘Follow me.’” - John 21:19 (NLT)

Do you realize that our Lord has done the same thing for us as He did for Peter? He has let us know by what kind of death we will glorify God. It is death to self.

“And He said to all, If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also].” - Luke 9:23 (Amplified)

I once had a lady in my church who was bedfast (Mrs. Howe). But she was very faithful to pray for me and to intercede for our church.

Once, when visiting with her, she gave me this little article, entitled, “What Does It Mean To Die to Self?” I want to share it with you today.

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