Offer grace and not just criticism

Offer grace and not just criticism

In Matthew 14, Jesus did some incredible things. He fed over 5000 people with a small amount of food. He walked on water. He calmed a storm. He healed all who came to him. The disciples worshipped him, and the people of Gennesaret flocked to him.

And then the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the day, came to Jesus in Matthew 15. They approached this man who had done so many incredible things and demonstrated he was someone special, and what burning question do they ask him? They ask why his disciples don’t wash their hands in the correct ceremonial, traditional way. They don’t see the wonder of Jesus but find something to criticise. And as is pointed out in the conversation that followed from this, their concern was not even a Biblical one but a tradition of the elders.

Isn’t that both hilarious and sad? They miss the excitement other people see in Jesus and only find something they are unhappy with. They want to be the moral policemen but miss the Messiah who walked among them.

I think we Christians can sometimes make the Pharisee mistake. When we are first converted, we are so excited about Jesus. After some years, or perhaps decades, we can lose some of the excitement and become critical people. We can start to look down on those who parent in a different way to us, or who wear different clothes to church, or who spend their money in ways we would not. It is so easy to be critical of others, even when the things we criticise are not Biblical issues at all but cultural ones.

It would be a real shame if new believers, or even those who are not yet believers, only see this attitude of criticism from Christians. I fear sometimes the church does give that impression. We are quick to point out problems with the lifestyles of others in the name of honouring God.

What we need to be instead are people who are excited about grace. We should be thankful for what God has done for us like the people of Gennesaret. We should worship Jesus like the disciples did after He walked on water. Christians have such good news to offer, not just criticism. Let’s be people of grace, not people who are quick to judge. Let’s talk often about Jesus and the wonder of being saved and live with joy as saved people. Christians have so much to offer the world; let’s make sure we’re offering those around us grace and not something inferior.