One of the first reality TV shows began as a radio production in the 1940s. This is Your Life moved to TV in the 50s and ran until 1961. In the show, participants were surprised by the host who then brought in all kinds of old friends and family members to talk about this person. The idea was to show that they had endured so far and give them hope for the future. Many of the celebrities who were featured on the show bristled at the invasion of privacy, obviously this was years before Facebook and Instagram, but it was an audience favorite for many years. People craved that positive touch.
Paul wasn’t always that positive, though. He was upset that believers were suing each other and appearing in courts before unbelievers. Again, this was obviously years before Twitter, or even the pamphlet wars of the 1700s when Christian leaders fought their battles in public. He reminded Christians that it was better to be wronged than bring disrepute on the word of God. In the discussion, he recited a long list of sins, but reminded his readers that This Was Your Life. “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:1-11)
There is a two-pronged message for followers of Christ as we look at that list of sins and we read Paul’s commentary. The first was that we have no right to boast about our current position with Jesus Christ. You’ve seen people like that, haven’t you? They talk about people who are still caught in their sin with complete disgust, forgetting that they themselves were caught up in one sin or another before they came to Jesus. For some, perhaps, they never realized the extent of their sin was because they came to Christ early in life. They don’t realize what a great difference Jesus made in their lives. There is a second message that we must remember as we see people caught up in their sin. They may appear proud of their sin, they may be held deeply by the bonds of their sin, but if the grace of God can save someone like me, He can save anyone. The people we see whom we might label as “terrible sinners” because of the depth of their depravity are not hopeless. They have the hope of God’s grace whether they realize it or not. There is no sin among those in Paul’s list of sin the places them outside the reach of God’s hope.
The most important implication of those two truths is that we are to accept our call from God to share His grace with everyone. Our attitude should not be one of superiority, for this is what we once were. We were saved by the grace of God. This should make us humble as we share. We must also remember the pull of sin on our own life. Even today, some of my old sins seek to re-appear in my life. It is still a battle to fight off the temptations even though I am years removed from being held “in sin’s dark sway.” If it’s still hard for me, remember that the people we are talking to often have never had any kind of experience with God’s love and will be more likely to reject the grace of God at first than to accept it. When that happens we have the responsibility to keep on loving that person and keep on showing them the grace of God. If their sin is not outside of God’s grace and ability to forgive, it shouldn’t be outside of our ability to forgive – especially since we once lived in the same way.
Lord, when I look back on the way that I once rebelled against You I am so grateful that You were still able to forgive me and grant me Your grace. I look at friends and relatives who are caught up in their sins and I long for the opportunity to show Your love and Your grace to them. Remind me, Father, that I have no cause for boasting in my relationship with You, for that is what I once was also.