Interacting With Grace

It's God's grace that allows you to be alive this minute. It's God's grace that keeps your heart pumping so that you don't fall over dead.

Scripture: Romans 15:13-14


Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? I hope everything is running smoothly at your house and if perchance you’ve struck a day that’s a rough one, look and up trust the Lord Jesus to see you through. I find myself sometimes in these days that are full of pressure now and again. I just look up and say, “Lord Jesus, I’m your boy. Take care of me now.” Oh, the Lord cares. Yes He does.

Catherine Marshall writes to say that on one occasion when she was so burdened for some member of the family and somehow she couldn’t manage the situation, she couldn’t reach into the other person’s life. There wasn’t any human answer to it. She said she just bowed her head and said, “Dear Heavenly Father, for Jesus’ sake, have mercy upon so and so,” and named the person. She said at that moment, peace came into her heart and at the same time, the situation itself began to change in answer to prayer. God does care about our situations, doesn’t He? “Casting all your care upon Him,” -why? “For He careth for you.” So today, dear friend, if you’ve struck a rough one, just look up and say, “Dear Heavenly Father, for Jesus’ sake, have mercy on me and see me through.” He will, I promise you because He has promised already.

You and I have been looking at Romans chapter 15. The last time we got together, we were talking about the 13th verse and had just about walked through it. “Now,” he says, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” The blessed Spirit of God makes real and visible the experience of God’s hope in your life. The blessed spillover of divine optimism, not a vain wishing that things may be better tomorrow but the solid assurance that because Christ is alive and I belong to Him, and the Spirit of God is filling my life and the Word of God stands forever and every promise is true, that solid basis for faith causes me to spill over hope and confidence even in the roughest of situations; abounding in hope.”

Now he said “I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren,” this is verse 14, Romans chapter 15, “I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, I have written more boldly to you in some sort, as putting you in mind,” reminding you, in other words, “because of the grace that is given to me of God that I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.” When can you offer advice to somebody else? That’s a touchy one, isn’t it? When can you offer advice to somebody else?

As a matter of fact, you have to be very careful about offering advice. Ben Weiss gave me a little couplet years ago that I’ve always remembered. He said, “Things remembered as things forgot and things taught as though we taught them not.” “Oh, by the way, have you ever thought of this?” The incidental dropping of intelligence into the other person’s mind is an effective teaching ploy. Instead of lecturing and pounding at home, you slip it in, so to speak, through the side door of consciousness. “Things remembered as things forgot.” “Oh, I just remembered.” “Oh, by the way.”

“And things taught as though we taught them not.” “You already know this but just let me remind you of it.” Why? Why do you have to take that approach? Because the human spirit is so constituted that you have to give a person a chance to save, as we say, a little face. That’s why many a teaching session is made up of what they call role playing. A situation will be dramatized by individuals showing what can be done in business when you face a certain problem. It’s called role playing.

How do you handle the belligerent employee? How do you handle a situation where in order to save the corporation millions of dollars, you have to enter into a human relationship that is unpleasant? All of these different questions that come up in management training. The learning process oftentimes is speeded up or what they call role playing. That is to say you see the situation occurring but it isn’t necessarily focused on you. You have the opportunity of applying the truth for yourself.

You and I need to take that approach when we’re talking with our teenagers. Many of you have growing up children in your family, children or grandchildren, and you’ve become accustomed to the standard complaint, “Oh, daddy don’t preach to me.” Have you heard that? Of course, you have. And if you haven’t heard it, it’s because the small fry are afraid to say it but they think it. Teenagers especially don’t want to be told. So at that point, you give them the luxury of being listened to and in the process, you draw out of them how they feel and what they think.

For instance, someone was saying the other day in a session I attended, “Junior comes home and announces that he’s going to drop school. He’s a sophomore in high school and he said, ‘I’m going to drop out of school.’” Well, you’re tempted to say out, “Over my dead body, you’re going to drop out of school. What do you want to do? Grow up and be a dope? You want to be on welfare the rest of your life? You want to be unemployed and unemployable? What’s the matter with you? You’re not going to drop out of school.” That’s how you feel.

“But,” said the speaker, “you might, that is you might just be wiser to say, ‘Hey, you feel pretty strongly about that, don’t you?’ You want to talk about it?’ Nine chances out of ten the youngster will indeed want to talk about it and it develops that Miss McGillicutty or whatever her name may have been gave him a lower grade in Biology than he thought he ought to have. He got upset about it. He complained to her about it. She told him off. They had an argument and the teacher generally wins and so he stomped out of the room and said ‘I’m going to drop out of school.’

Well by the time he’s finished telling you about it, the steam is out of the situation for him and he feels a little more relaxed and you’re able to ask him, ‘Have you thought, Sonny boy, have you thought of the possible results that will accrue now to this action of dropping out of school, have you thought about that?’ And you very gently begin to lead him then to think for himself along these lines.” These are some of the things that we learn as we go through life. You don’t make a flat out statement. You ask a question.

If you do make a statement, you phrase it, “It seems to me,” so that you give the other person room to think his own thoughts. All of that is learned in the process of gaining experience and you and I, most of us, have already learned all of that. So that’s review. Now, let’s see what the apostle Paul has to say about this. He said, “I am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. Nevertheless, I have written the more boldly to you, as putting you in mind, because of the grace that is given to me of God.”

As far as Paul was concerned, he said, “God has given me the grace of ministering to the Gentiles,” and he said, “I’m just reminding you of some things.” That was his approach. Whenever you’re going to give advice, do it as out of the grace of God and do it with the realization that the other person has got some brains too, and may also have thought of these things. Simple truth but so — it works almost magically if you’ll adopt a gracious approach, that is to say, “By the grace of God, I am what I am,” you’ll realize that anything you have to say to anybody else is not yours in a proprietary sense but God has loaned you the concept, so to speak, and this is out of God’s grace that you’re interacting with any other human being.

And then assume and give the other person benefit of that assumption that they also think and that they may already have thought of these things. That keeps what you say from being a threat to people psychologically. Now, what else did Paul assume? He said, “I’m persuaded of you that ye are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able also to admonish one another.” Three assumptions here that make it possible for you to talk to other people effectively. I read somewhere a good many years ago that one of the powerful motivators in managing personnel is to realize that everybody innately really wants to do the right thing.

One of the phrases that’s used by personnel managers very frequently is, “Now, John, I know that you want to do the right thing.” You can always assume that a person with whom you’re speaking wants to do, or at least to be known as doing, the right thing. So he said, “You’re full of goodness.” You want to do the right thing. You can assume that when you’re talking with people. Then he said, “Filled with knowledge.” You also can assume that people know a thing or two. It is a not so subtle insult to try to convey information that another person already knows and beat on him with something that he’s already thought through.

That’s the reason that very frequently it’s a good idea to use the magical phrase “What is your opinion? What do you think?” Find out what the other person is thinking and then you can build upon that platform to develop your mutual understanding on any given matter. You can assume that the person wants to do the right thing; you can assume that he knows a thing or two, and you can assume that, at least in his own estimation, he is able to tell other people a thing or two, able also to admonish one another.

Now, why am I taking time on this? Well, number one, because it’s in the Bible; number two, because it turns out to be in all of its simplicity, one of the most important principles that you’ll ever discover in interacting with other human beings either in your family or on the job or in school or whatever. Approach any situation with another human being on the basis of God’s grace, “by the grace of God, I am what I am.” It’s God’s grace that allows you to be alive this minute. It’s God’s grace that keeps your heart pumping so that you don’t fall over dead. It’s God’s grace that keeps the air suspended above you. There’s enough water suspended above your head to drown you, you know that, don’t you?

And God keeps the moisture suspended in the atmosphere instead of allowing it to all come down on you. It’s God’s grace that keeps the temperature of your body at 98.6 approximately. You’re living as an example of the grace of God. You approach any kind of conversation with that attitude, I can guarantee you, it’s going to be easier for you to talk with somebody else because that’s the essence of humility. And then when you talk with folk, he says, “I know that you’re full of goodness.”

Assume that the other person wants to do the right thing. “You’re full of knowledge.” Assume that the other person has thought about this and assume that the other person also has some deep convictions he or she would like to transmit; able to admonish. And you make that assumption that gives a dignity to the other person so that he or she feels that you’re not trying to work them over but that you are actually respecting them. Like the comedian who always complains in his routine “I don’t get no respect.” People feel that way whether or not they say it. And if you want folk to listen to you, make sure they know that you respect them. And then you can get across to them the message that God has laid on your heart. Practical truth from Romans chapter 15 verse 14.

Dear Father today, help us to be wise in our speaking with other people for Thy glory, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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