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To My Friend Who Left the Faith: Grace

By Pastor John Mateos Ong


It is more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an old one. Advertising has a cost. If you are selling something new and you want to convince people to buy it, you have to spend money. Once you get your captured market, it is easier to maintain them because all you have to do is to keep them satisfied.


Just like at church, if you want to convince people to come, you have to spend money and resources. There is always a cost. When you invite newcomers, sometimes you have to treat them to lunch. But once they are in, it is easier to invite them the second time. But why it is that some people who attend the church leave after some time? Some are there only for a season and some others really do not come back anymore. Do you know anyone who left the faith?


Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” This week’s topic dwells on forgiveness. But in these verses, Peter has another issue which is pride. Out of nowhere, he comes to Jesus and asks how many times you have to forgive your neighbor. He was asking for a pat on the back when he said seven times. But really, how many times can one person sin against you before you have unforgiveness sin your heart? Jesus asks you to always forgive. 7, being the perfect number, and 70 is the perfect number multiplied by 10, means always. So when should you forgive? Always. Then Jesus shared a parable in Matthew 18:23-35. It says, ““Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full. “When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt. “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.


Why do you think the servant refused to forgive his fellow servant when his master let him go for a much bigger amount that he owed? Do you think he was really in need? Was he proud? Ungrateful? He probably was not poor since he borrowed 50 million silver coins. He was probably a rich man. When scholars studied this parable, the closest reason they found was that the servant did not really believe that his master forgave him for the debt that he owed. That is why he also did not forgive his fellow servant. So when his fellow servants found out and told their master, he was thrown into prison too. The master expected the servant to repay his grace for him with grace to others.


You need to forgive from your heart. Jesus is not saying that you will earn forgiveness by forgiving others. You are forgiven by and through faith. As long as you believe in Jesus Christ, you are forgiven; even if you do not know how to forgive others. But then again, did you really accept Jesus if you do not know how to forgive?


People leave the church because of hypocrisy and lack or grace. If you lack grace, you automatically become a hypocrite. When people see that the people inside the church do not live up to the Christian standards preached by their pastors, they have a disconnect and leave. It is easy to tell them to keep their eyes on Jesus and not on people. But they are also people. When they see Christians misrepresenting Jesus, they get turned off and look for another church. But lo and behold, what do they find? It is the same everywhere. A church is made up of sinners and imperfect people. Even the pastors. Do not expect them to change because only God can change people.


How do you keep people from seeing the church as a building full of hypocrites? Remember grace - that it was extended to you first. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” The best way to fight hypocrisy is to continually remind yourself that you are just a recipient of God’s grace. If you forget that, you will be proud. There is nothing you can boast about. Everything that you do is only by God’s grace. No one is qualified; it is only by grace. And one who has received grace will want to give it to others too. Luke 7:41-43 says, “Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said.” When you realize how much you owe because of Jesus’ death on the cross, you will appreciate grace all the more. But if you do not see it, then you will only focus on the sin. The Bible is not keen on making you pay for all your sins; all it wants is for you to appreciate the grace God gave you. Romans 12:1-3 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

If you keep on remembering the sins that you have done, you will not be able to do anything. Once you accept Him as your Lord and Savior, focus on Him and not on your sins.


Share grace. Romans 3:10-12 says, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” If you understand the grace that God gave you, how dirty you were before you receive it, now you see people who need it too. That is why the master told the servant, “should you not have had the same mercy as what I gave you?” How will share grace? Share the love of Jesus Christ. Religion comes as legalism. It is easy to see yourself above others, counting what you are doing for the church. It is not the do’s and don’ts. It is not about what you do; it is about what Christ has done. When you receive it, you will want to share it.


Show grace. John 4:14 says, “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” When Moses came down from the mountain, the people knew that He was telling the truth because his face was glowing. When you receive grace, people around you should be able to see it. There should be a different joy in you that attracts people. Grace should not only be shared; it should be lived. If you are a recipient of grace and you understand how big your debt it, you will be its ambassador, a spring of living water. It cannot be hidden. One way to show grace is through time. When you forget grace, you become entitled. You will also have pride in your heart. Or discontent. You begin counting what you have done to deserve it. The best way to combat hypocrisy is to remind yourself of God’s grace. You did not work for it and you definitely do not deserve it. After 18 years of David’s anointing, when he had the crown and he was king, and finally God allowed him to triumph over his enemies, he looked up to God and said, “when I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon, the stars which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them? Human beings that you care for them?” Whenever you receive grace, do you become proud? Or do you look up at the heavens and ask what you have done to deserve it? You do not deserve it. But God gave it to you anyway. Who are you that God is mindful of you?

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