3 Ugly Truths All Christians Have In Common...And Why You Should Be Gracious To Them
3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. - Titus 3:3
1. All Christians were once foolish and disobedient.
The sad truth about all Christians is that we’ve had darker days. Maybe you knew a Christian before they were a Christian. If so, you can probably attest to the foolishness he or she has committed. Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, many who say they are Christians still are foolish and disobedient! This is often true and many who call themselves Christians remain foolish and disobedient; this surely doesn’t help the general view of us. Unfortunately, the transformation process of repentance isn’t accomplished over night, and takes a lot of undoing.
2. All Christians were once led astray, and slaves to various passions and pleasures.
The second ugly truth about all Christians is that we’ve all been people who were led astray and enslaved to different passions and pleasures. If you were friends with a Christian before they were a Christian you probably not only saw them enslaved to passions and pleasures but took part in it with them! They might have even led you astray and caused you to try things and do things that eventually enslaved you as well. It’s also possible that even when they started to change and started calling themselves a Christian you watched or are still watching them struggle to overcome the passions and pleasures they once delighted in before they were believers.
3. All Christians once passed their days in malice and envying, hated by others and hating one another.
The third ugly truth about all Christians is that we used be full of envy and hatred. If you knew us before we believed in Christ we likely held vicious grudges, talked a lot of smack about people, made enemies unnecessarily, hated people for petty reasons, and were despised by others. We spent days talking about who we hated, why we hated them, and how much we hated them. This was normal everyday conversation. The sad truth is that we even enjoyed doing these things and thought it was funny. Maybe you remember this about your friend who now calls himself or herself a Christian, or maybe you remember this about that person you hated that now calls themselves a Christian.
Why You Should Be Gracious To Them
While it is true that all Christians have these ugly truths in common, I want to suggest that the primary reaction to these things shouldn’t be anger, surprise, condemnation, or disregard but grace.
4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. – Titus 3:4-8
You should have grace for them because you are the same way, or you used to be the same way until God started changing you.
The Bible makes it clear that we are only two types of people in the world:
1. Those who are not being renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Scripture describes them as foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing their days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another (Titus 3:3)
2. Those who are being renewed by the Holy Spirit.
Scripture describes them as having believed in Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit are being renewed. This process of renewal is a process of change that a believer undergoes for the rest of his life. He becomes more and more like Jesus Christ. The process is also described as a process of training. Believers are trained to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age, waiting for their blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of their great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for them to redeemed them from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
Which one are you?
If you’re the first one, then those ugly things you see in Christians are prevalent in your life too. “But they should know better, they call themselves Christians,” you’re absolutely right they should. And if they are Christian, by the Holy Spirit's power, they will know better and will do better over time. Furthermore, they will stand before God and give an account for their actions. But that's all about them. What about you? What should you do? Do you know better and do you do better? Or do you spend your days doing the same things that you don't like them to do, and that the Holy Spirit is at work in them to change? Do you realize that you will stand before God and give an account for your actions? Do you realize you need God's grace? Do you realize to change you need the renewal of the Holy Spirit? Will you trust in Jesus Christ's death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and the renewal of the Holy Spirit?
If you’re the second one, then those ugly things you see in Christians were prevalent in your life too and to some degree still are. While disobedience and foolishness was prevalent in both of your lives, it took the wonderful grace of God in Jesus Christ to change you. It was not something that you earned through works of righteousness or good deeds or because you tried really hard, but was done according to God’s own mercy (Titus 3:5). He was the one who changed you and is changing you by his Holy Spirit. The only difference between you and the Christian who is still struggling to overcome ugly sins is the place God has you/them in the process of renewing and training. Remember that there are still sins in your life that God is still training you to overcome. If we all need the grace and power of God to help us overcome sins in our lives, then we should be quick to show grace to others.