Grace Frees Me To Be Honest
Read 1 Corinthians 15:9–11
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:1
How can grace help me become as candid and non-defensive about my character defects as the people in the support group we met yesterday?
In Healing Grace, David Seamands retells the fascinating story of a man named Stypulkowski, a fighter in the Polish underground resistance movement in World War II. As the war ended he was captured by Russians along with 15 other freedom fighters and made to stand trial for “war crimes,” accused falsely of helping the Nazis. Prior to trial the men were tortured and interrogated in order to break them so that they would confess to anything.
The most effective interrogation technique was a form of blackmail. The torturers relentlessly accused the men of all sorts of behavior — in their work, their sex lives, their families — and when they found each man’s weakness, they exploited it, threatening to tell the world of his sin if he did not confess to at least some war crimes and go to prison for a while. “Save yourself and your family a lot of shame,” they would advise.
The men’s wills, weakened by a starvation diet and sleep deprivation, all broke… except Stypulkowski. He was the only one to plead not guilty at the trial, and then, largely because of the foreign press covering the trial, was set free. He had been interrogated twice daily for 70 days, but he kept his Christian faith alive through daily prayer. And it was his understanding of God’s grace that seemed to make him immune to the threats. As David Seamands writes:
Oh, it was evident that he was not free from weaknesses — his accusers pointed them out to him time after time — but he was never shattered by them.
He daily presented himself to God and to his accusers in absolute honesty… So whenever they accused him of some personal wrong, he freely admitted it, even welcomed it.
He said, “I never felt it necessary to justify myself with excuses. When they showed me I was a coward, I already knew it. When they shook their fingers at me with accusations of filthy, lewd feelings, I already knew that. I said to them, ‘But gentleman, I am much worse than that.’ For you see, I learned it was unnecessary for me to justify myself. One had already done that for me — Jesus Christ!”
In today’s verses Paul shows this same confidence: “Since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.” He knows he doesn’t have his ministry because of his performance. He has no illusions about his “goodness.” He knows it’s all by grace. “By the grace of God I am what I am…” That’s why he doesn’t lose heart.
And so it is with you.
When you truly realize that everything you have is by God’s grace, you’ll find the courage for total honesty about your shortcomings and needs, and experience healing grace.
But how does grace help me navigate the often prickly personalities and hot controversies I encounter everyday? That’s a great, often-forgotten ripple effect of grace that we’ll look at tomorrow.
Do you tend to be self-defensive or secretive about your shortcomings? Why or why not?
Why is it important for your personal character growth for you to understand that all you have, you have by the grace of God?
Thank God today for all you have by the grace of God — take a few minutes to specifically list in prayer some of the blessings for which you are grateful.