“God Calling” today addresses divine restraint. That’s one I’m working very hard onJ lately. The message in full is about Jesus’ restraint and the tenderness with which He draws us to the cross; to Himself. Jesus is so anxious to see us all saved and safe in the Kingdom of Heaven; yet He restrains Himself, not only in regard to when, but also how He deals with us. That goes for the unsaved sinner and for the saved sinner.
Mark 10:13-16 is an illustration of this. People were bringing children to the Lord so that He might touch them and the disciples were rebuking the people for it. Jesus was indignant with the disciples over this. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth; anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Then Jesus took the children in His arms and laid hands on them and blessed them.
When you think about it, we are all God’s “children”, saved or unsaved, in the sense that God is our creator. The Bible tells us that He created everything and nothing that was made was made without Him. Everything includes the unsaved sinner. The only difference between us and the unsaved sinner is in knowledge and maturity of the Kingdom of God. Spiritually, they are as infants and know nothing-remember the unseen realm and forces. They are children in that they cannot help themselves and are powerless and defenseless against the wiles of Satan and the worldly things that have them enslaved. It is our job as believers, to “watch out” for them; to do the “warring’ in prayer over them and to be an example to them by our lives. In us they are to see the love of Christ; His love for us and His love for them. Think how easily children are frightened or hurt, and how easily their spirits are crushed. The Bible says of Jesus that “He will not douse a smoldering wick nor crush a bruised reed.” We are all born with the desire to love and be loved. Jesus said that He came to seek that which was lost. Every man seeks a power higher than Himself-well, most men do anyway. We’re sent to seek those which are lost and bring them back home in the same way. But, mercy, grace, tenderness and love are Jesus’ way, not legalistic terrorism.
When I thought about this message, I remembered going places in the car as a child. I was only three or four years old. I couldn’t see over the back of the front seat or fully out of the side windows. I could see the sky and the tops of things going by as the car went down the road. I couldn’t see where I was going though, because I was too small. Salvation works just like that. Spiritually, we’re just like that before we get saved; we’re too small and can’t see where we’re going to. When we come to Jesus, He takes us in His arms and puts us on His lap, and raises us up. Then, we can see where we’re going to.
Jesus said that no one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. This is because when the patch pulls away, the tear is made worse. In the same way, we can do more harm than good in preaching the Gospel. The Gospel summed up, is really three words-“God loves you.” The rest is testimony of what He’s done for us and in our lives. He was beaten almost beyond recognition-so brutal was it. He was flogged, He was spat on and mocked, and He was crucified and died for us. He laid His own life down of His own free will, so that we might live with Him eternally; and He did that all because He loves us. We are a living testimony of His love for us and in us. We’re supposed to bring people to Jesus, not bring the “law” to them.
Another illustration of this in Matthew 9:1-12. This is the story of the paralytic. The Pharisees called Jesus a blasphemer because He told the man he was forgiven. Jesus asked them which was easier to say-“your sins are forgiven” or “get up and walk”? One statement imparts mercy and grace, empowers faith and inspires action. The other is actually a covert “accusation”-“Get up” implies or points out that you’re “down”-and orders or demands action, actually causing creating confusion and frustration. The paralytic already knows he’s “down” and if he could, don’t you think he’d be walking? If He knew how, I’m sure he’d get up and walk-he wouldn’t need anyone to tell him to do that. But he’d been paralyzed for so long, the inability to get up and walk was ingrained in him. He didn’t even realize that he had any hope of ever walking again. “Get up and walk” actually reinforces the paralysis then. This is the difference between grace and the law. The law points to the sin; grace points to the Cross and to salvation. This is the difference between mercy and sacrifice-or self-righteousness based on legalism and rituals or works. When the Pharisees questioned Jesus about His eating and drinking with tax collectors and “sinners”, He told them that “the it’s not the healthy who have need of a doctor, but the sick.” Then He told them to go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”