January 30, 2008 by
MIDLOTHIAN, VA—This past Sunday C.J. traveled to Virginia to preach at KingsWay Community Church
. After the meeting, C.J. enjoyed lunch with the small-group leaders of the church, addressed them from 1 Corinthians, and fielded questions.
In light of 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
, C.J. encouraged the small-group leaders to identify evidences of God’s grace in those they love and serve, and provided a “starter’s kit” on how to accomplish it.
In part he said,
Most people are more aware of the absence of God than the presence of God. Most people are more aware of the presence of sin than evidences of grace. What a privilege and joy it is in pastoral ministry and small-group ministry to turn one’s attention to ways in which God is at work, because so often people are unaware of God’s work. And much of God’s work in our lives is quiet; it’s not “spectacular.” It’s rarely obvious to the individual, and normally it’s incremental and takes place over a lengthy period of time.
So, informed by Paul’s leadership I want to interact with everybody by identifying an evidence of grace, because if they are Christian I know God is at work in their lives. What a joy it is to discern where and how God is at work, draw people’s attention to it, and celebrate God’s grace in their lives! The fact that we get to do this—how cool is this?
And I also know this is critical preparation for any correction that genuinely needs to take place in their lives. Because identifying God’s work in their lives gives them faith for the correction they might be in need of, and they can consider that correction without collapsing under that correction being unaware that God is at work in their life.
See, Paul’s correction of the Corinthian church is effective because he has faith for this church. When we correct people, they can tell whether we have affection for them and faith for them. I sadly know what it’s like to correct somebody where I neither had affection for nor faith for—as if the correction alone was sufficient and most important. That is not true. This is not an expression of the character of God and that is not biblical leadership.
I would encourage all of us to restrain ourselves from correcting someone until we have developed, to some degree, affection for them and faith for them.
So how do we identify evidences of grace?
Here is the “starter’s kit” I recommend for recognizing evidences of grace. (It’s a “starter’s kit” but you will never outgrow or exhaust it.) Just take two categories, the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. Work from those two categories and lists, study those lists in the Bible, look up from studying those lists, and look at Christians around you. You will see God at work everywhere you look.
God is working. God is very busy. God, give us the eyes to see how you are at work so we can identify that, draw people’s attention to it, celebrate it, and assign all glory to God for that work!
-C.J. Mahaney, addressing the small-group leaders of KingsWay Community Church in Midlothian, VA (January 27, 2008).
Related: For more on this topic, see C.J.’s address “Grace and the Adventure of Leadership” delivered to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary chapel on January 24, 2006.