In my first post on this journey to understand grace, I talked about how the irony of grace is that it is offered to someone who does not deserve it. That is the very definition of grace; a gift that is not deserved. In my second post I looked at several passages in the Bible to get a better understanding of what that gift of grace might be. Just from looking at a handful of passages, it was evident that the gift of grace from God to us includes salvation, mercy, love, kindness, redemption, forgiveness, peace, as well as the ability to pray (speak to the creator of this universe, which is an incredible privilege!) and rejoice (praise God even in difficult times, which is a God given ability).
This morning I decided to go for a walk outside. During that time I was talking to God about all he has been teaching me and revealing to me concerning grace, as well as other things. As I was talking to him, and as he was speaking to my heart by bringing to memory the different passages of scripture I have been reading lately, he opened my eyes to another level…an even deeper level to be exact…of grace.
What God began to help me realize is that grace is not only a gift offered to those who don’t deserve it, but it also must be offered when they don’t deserve it for it to truly be grace in its purest form.
The reality is we can all admit we don’t really deserve grace from God or from others whom we’ve wronged because we are humans who make mistakes. That is why we ask for forgiveness and hope the other person extends it to us, because we know we were wrong and don’t necessarily deserve it. So we know the general concept that we don’t deserve grace.
Yet to realize that it’s not just that we don’t deserve it because we are humans and make mistakes, but that it is offered in the moments that prove we don’t deserve it that is such an incredible truth…and an insane one as well.
Honestly, it’s actually hard to think about that truth at first. We as humans want to believe that we can’t fully love, forgive, show mercy to, or be kind to someone else who has wronged us until they first realize their need to ask us for forgiveness, mercy, kindness, or love. Sure they still don’t technically deserve it because they wronged us, but because they acknowledge their mistake we are willing to show grace to them.
However, to accept the truth that grace, true complete grace, must be offered during the time it is not deserved and before the other party understands their need to ask for grace will not be easy to grasp…at least not at first. It honestly seems insane to us, because it’s not how our human minds work. It makes no sense to us academically speaking or practically speaking.
But it is not supposed to make perfect sense to us as humans, because what we must understand is that grace comes from God first, so it is something that will be beyond our human mind. It will require us to look to God for strength and wisdom in order to grasp and begin to comprehend.
Consider the following verses that show this concept is a God thing and not a human thing…
Ephesians 2:4-5 says “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses (sins), made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…”
Romans 5:8 says “…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
John 13:34 says “…just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
Jesus, when he is being crucified, says in Luke 23:34 “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Colossians 3:12-13 says “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
In the parable of the Prodigal Son that Jesus tells about repentance, we see that the father is waiting for the son to return even before the son fully returns…and the father runs to greet his son and embraces him even before the son can quote his memorized apology to his father. (Luke 15:11-32)
The reality is that if we wait for someone to ask for forgiveness, love, mercy, kindness, etc., we are not showing them complete grace when we give them what they ask for. Sure, it’s an element of grace, but grace is only complete if it is offered during the moments that make it undeserved. That is truly beyond our human way of thinking, making it seem insane. But grace, God’s grace that he gave to us and we are to show to others, is insane to the human mind. And that is what makes it so amazing!