In yesterday’s post, we discussed what grace is and how much of it we receive from our Heavenly Father. We ended the post with this:
Grace is not a blanket tolerance; it is not a display of weakness; it does not avoid speaking the truth even when it’s difficult; and it is not a onetime event. Grace does not ignore sin. Grace recognizes the full ugliness of sin, yet if offers undeserved pardon and blessing. And God expects us to be channels of His grace to others. We are not called to just bathe in grace; we are called to shower it upon others. Grace has not been fully experienced until it is fully expressed to others.
(From “Putting a Face on Grace: Living a Life Worth Passing On”): The Bible’s most zealous proponent of grace was the apostle Paul. He was so enamored with grace he always began and ended his New Testament letters with reference to it. Paul knew God had forgiven his sins, not because of Paul’s good works, but by God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul realized he was the chief of sinners, and everything God had done for him was a divine expression of grace (1 Corinthians 15:10). For Paul, grace was more than a theology; it was a motivating force of his entire life. God’s grace moved him to show kindness to those totally undeserving of it. Here’s an outline of truths about grace as we prepare to delve into the amazing realities of grace that applies to our lives.
- Grace is a gift of kindness given to someone who does not deserve it.
- Grace is not reciprocal. It goes one way.
- Grace is costly. Someone has to pay the price for grace.
- Grace looks at what people can become and seeks to help them reach their potential. Grace does not condemn those who have not yet arrived.
- Grace focuses on solutions, not problems.
- Grace leads to action.
- Grace is what motivates God to relate to us moment by moment with perfect love. God looks at us through eyes of grace. If He didn’t, we would have no hope.
- Grace is the lubricant that eases friction in any relationship.
- Grace expects the best but offers freedom to fail.
- Grace celebrates success and does not keep score of wrongs.
“How do we show grace to others? We look at them through the same grace lens God does. When we consider ourselves, our spouses, our kids, our parents, friends or fellow believers, we know no one has “arrived” yet. But that’s no reason to despair or to give up. God is at work. Just as God continues to apply His grace to people’s lives each day, so we must view the work of grace as a process. That means we don’t show grace only for a while or in spurts or mete it out as deserved. We open our lives up to become a conduit of God’s grace.” (From “Putting a Face on Grace: Living a Life Worth Passing On”)
As stated previously, grace is not a blanket tolerance, and never involves condoning sin. Grace never compromises truth or righteousness. Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery but He also commanded her to “sin no more” (John 8:11). Genuine grace always draws people toward Christ and His righteousness. A loving, graceful response to sin sometimes means caring enough to say the hard thing that may help people understand the consequence of their sin (Proverbs 27:5-6). Jesus claimed the world would recognize His genuine disciples because of their love for one another (John 13:35). Loving one another involves showing grace. 1 Corinthians 13 shows us how.
In my application, I must confess that too often I wear my heart on my sleeve, and during these times I’m easily hurt or angered, or both. There are people in my life that I deeply love, but with whom relationship is not easy. What I’m learning is that when I do something for someone, I need to give it as a gift from the heart, without any expectations. Once I give something (a thing, an action, words of love and grace), it’s no longer mine to fret over. Along with the gift, I need to give grace. Could it be that in giving grace to others, I’m also giving grace to myself to not be perfect? To not always say the right thing, make the best dinner, give the perfect gift? And could it also be that when I’m giving up control and replacing it with grace, that instead of striving to be “enough” (which I always believe I fail at miserably), I can find that God is enough, and I don’t have to be? And if I’m keeping my focus on God and not myself, won’t I be better able to see others (and myself) through God’s eyes of grace? Grace looks at what people can become and seeks to help them reach their potential. Grace does not condemn those who have not yet arrived. I’ve certainly “not arrived”, but I am seeking God’s purpose and His grace – and I aim to seek opportunities to pass it on.