As Christians, we always have a choice to add positive or negative to any situation. Better yet, we have a choice to consider and treat people with a positive or negative approach. When we consider those who are not yet believers, do we take them as they are, or do we attempt to “fix them” first by suggesting that certain things be removed from their lives before they are “worthy” of God’s mercy and grace?
As an illustration, picture a non-believer as an empty glass with some sand in the bottom of the glass. The sand represents their “sin”, “issues”, or “problems”. If we take the “minus” approach to treating others, it is like taking a pair of tweezers in nit-picky fashion and selecting and personally removing a speck of sand out of the bottom of the glass. Of course in this fashion the process of “removing the sand” is long, laborious and frustrating. In fact, we may soon give up. If however, we take the “Plus” approach, understanding that we are filled with streams of living water, we will pour ourselves into the glass, and in no time the glass is not only full of water, but the sand is being displaced and washed out of the glass. Only Christ can wash completely, but we are, after all, His ambassadors! (II Corinthians 5:20)
Is it possible that the Apostle Paul, when addressing the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 2:1-5), was in some respects addressing a “Minus” church? Here, he tells them; “but as for you, you too were once dead”, and figuratively speaking, they had previously had sand in their own glasses. Maybe they still do.
This business of plus and minus brings to the surface a host of questions. For example, does the church choose who it ministers to, and why? Do you? Who, after all, are you willing to associate with? When it comes to people in your sphere of influence, can there still be sand in the glass? A lot of sand? When we consider Jesus, he was not ashamed to make his association with tax collectors, prostitutes, and those who were considered “unclean”. In essence, these were the ones that no one else would associate with.
So why do we treat others differently, or rather, inconsistently? Minus says, “You change, and then I will associate with you.” However, Plus takes on the attitude of what we read in Ephesians 2:10. We were created to be Plus Christians – those who add to (or into) the lives of others. One of the things to be added is fruit – the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit is not to be kept for ourselves, and it is to be without price or cost to the recipient. Rather than make the person come to the super-market of your life to purchase the fruit, why not leave the fruit on the tree, out in the open and in public, to be picked by whomever would choose to pick it? We can choose to be Minus and be stingy with our Christlike fruit, or we can leave it on the tree for everyone to pick – everyone! Who gets to enjoy the fruit of your life?
According to scripture (I Corinthians 13:13), we must love if we are to truly be a Plus Christian. Our love is to be poured out and into lives, like water filling the glass. And it is to be poured out on whomever, regardless of their status. Must they act and be “just right” to receive His mercy? Your mercy?
Be a Plus Christian to ALL those around you, even as Paul did. Become a minister of grace without prerequisite (Ephesians 3:7) and show forth the power of this grace by your deeds (James 2:14).
(This subject was derived and is based on the sermon message with identical title by Brian Templin; August 2, 2015)