Make space for G.R.A.C.E.

Rev. Yolanda Sampson

September 21, 2018
To what extent will you go to save face and avoid humiliation or embarrassment to preserve your reputation? Living in an image-conscious society, many people spend an enormous amount of time, money and resources to paint beautiful self-portraits, particularly on the universal platform of social media. The use of “makeup” to cover our true identities, ideas, infirmities, illnesses, insufficiencies and issues has become the societal norm.

Consider how CNN’s Erin Burnett reported that President Donald J. Trump was trying to save face by postponing his second meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin until after the first of the year because Putin had not accepted his invitation for the summit yet.

Consider how the president and first lady, Melania Trump, both tweeted a picture of themselves lovingly standing side by side together on a White House balcony after his sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.

What is particularly problematic is how a person will go to extraordinary lengths to save his or her own face, while marring the face of another. When confronted by Congress, Dr. Ben Carson blamed his wife, Candy, for buying a $31,000 dining room set to redecorate his office with tax payers’ money.

To what lengths will you go to save face?

Will you play the blame game like Adam and Eve, placing responsibility for your own error on someone else? In Genesis 3:1-3, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Lured by the serpent, they willingly disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit. In Genesis 3:12-13, when God confronted them, Adam blamed God and Eve, while Eve blamed the serpent. As a result of their own sin, both Adam and Eve suffered lifelong consequences, including being expelled from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which Adam was taken (Genesis 3:14-24).

Will you play the fame game like Ananias and Sapphira, lying to obtain a widespread favorable reputation? In Acts 5:1-2, Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property and laid the money at the apostles’ feet. Their public façade of generosity was masked by pride, lies and deception. Ananias and Sapphira deceived people into thinking that they gave all the proceeds from the property sale, when they did not. When Peter confronted them individually, they lied and suddenly died.

Will you play the name game, protecting your position and status at all costs? In Matthew 14:10-11, John the Baptist spoke out against King Herod’s marriage to Herodias because he married his brother’s wife. Speaking truth to power landed John in prison. During Herod’s birthday party, Herodias’ daughter danced so well that Herod promised that he would give her whatever she wanted. After consulting with her mom, she asked the king for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Because Herod made this oath in front of everyone, he felt compelled to honor this reprehensible request to avoid the humiliation of bringing shame upon his name.

Unfortunately, the plague of saving face has infiltrated the Christian church today. Instead of being transparent about personal failings and issues, many in the body of Christ spend an enormous amount of time making sure that all the “pimples” and “blemishes” are covered up. Many of us have become pretenders, who are more concerned about our own image than God’s image.


Instead of being transparent about personal failings and issues, many in the body of Christ spend an enormous amount of time making sure that all the “pimples” and “blemishes” are covered up. Many of us have become pretenders, who are more concerned about our own image than God’s image.
While serving a church some years ago, I became a target of a smear campaign to cover up someone else’s deficiencies, inaccuracies, inadequacies and insecurities. The pain of those false accusations that were contrary to my core beliefs was so unbearable that I felt stranded in the Sahara Desert without an ounce of water to drink. Naturally, I wanted to defend myself by sharing the truth with everyone who had an ear to hear. The following questions, however, were impressed upon my spirit through prayer: “Are you more concerned with your face, Yolanda, or my face? Are you my ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) or Satan’s? Are you my workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which I prepared beforehand, that you should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10)?”

The Lord knew that his ambassador needed to be refreshed and renewed, which would come only through effective prayers based on the Word of God (Isaiah 55:11). The Lord showed me that I needed to repent for harboring unforgiveness in my heart (Proverbs 28:13), forgive my offenders (Mark 11:25), love and pray for my enemies (Matthew 5:44), address the one person who brought the claim before me (Matthew 18:15), and pray with my accountability partners (Proverbs 27:17). Yielding in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s instructions gave me such a great peace, knowing that I pleased God. The added blessing is that, a few years later, my foe became a friend. “When the Lord is pleased with the decisions you’ve made, he activates grace to turn enemies into friends” (Proverbs 16:7, TPT).

Particularly in times of pain, pressure, persecution and problems, it is imperative that we make space for:

God to
refresh and renew
ambassadors of
Christ through
effective prayers.

When we create space to prayerfully seek God’s face, we are empowered to decrease our image so that God’s image can increase (John 3:30)! Truly, the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16, KJV).

The Rev. Yolanda Sampson is director of evangelism at First Church of Christ (Holiness) U.S.A., Washington, D.C.

She will lead early morning prayer and be available in the chapel/quiet room at ABHMS’ “Space for Grace: Thy Will Be Done,” November 14-16, 2018, in Philadelphia. REGISTER TODAY for this national conference that seeks to explore critical issues of mission engagement, discipleship and church transformation facing Christians today.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of American Baptist Home Mission Societies.

Want the latest from The Christian Citizen?
Subscribe to Christian Citizen Weekly

Don't Miss What's Next

Get early access to the newest stories from Christian Citizen writers, receive contextual stories which support Christian Citizen content from the world's top publications and join a community sharing the latest in justice, mercy and faith.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This