"but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs." NKJV
What are some of the traditions you hold that keep others from Jesus? In the verse above, you see the Jewish and Gentile conflict within the church and the traditions that the Jews wanted the Gentile church to follow. Although they rejoiced that God was at work among the Gentiles, they slipped in the word 'but' revealing their 'religiosity'. They were concerned for the traditions set within the church.
It is important as you walk in relationship with others to speak leaving out the 'buts'. Often, you'll hear that word come up as you talk to others. We all are in danger of saying it. Have you ever said:
"I like the way you did this 'but'."
"It's a great church 'but'."
"I would show love to that other person 'but'."
Many times you can find yourself saying something and then filling in reasons why you don't approve of something. Tragically, it's the same thing that has put walls between the unbelieving world and personal relationships with Jesus Christ. On one occasion, I remember a guy who stopped by the parking lot of our church asking if it was okay for him to enter the church dressed as he was. The church down the road told him that he couldn't come in unless he dressed more respectfully. This man was simply wearing a t-shirt and pair of jeans. It was okay to come to church 'but' he wasn't dressed nicely enough to be welcomed in. When God forgives us, there are no 'buts'. It is a free gift. When you are called to extend forgiveness to others, the Lord wants you to forgive them in the same way.
Maybe you are carrying around a number of reasons why you don't want to show God's love to someone else. If this is you, turn to the Lord right where you are and ask Him to help you purely embrace and show the gift of forgiveness to others as He has shown you.
Life Lesson: We do not earn forgiveness; it is given to us, it is a gift.
Thank You for the free gift of Your forgiveness that You've shown to me by dying for my sins. Please give me the strength to extend the same gift of love and forgiveness to others. Keep me from putting up walls that hinder others in having a real relationship with You. In Jesus' name, Amen.