6 months ago I began a series of blogs called “The Journey of Grace“. I began this blog series as a way for me to learn and explore grace like I hadn’t before…to get a better glimpse and understanding of grace. Personally, I was in a place in my life where I needed a better and much deeper understanding of grace (still am…but aren’t we all), so this was a journey I needed to take. But I also chose to make it a blog series rather than a personal study as I know many need a better understanding of what grace is, because we live in a world that often operates in ways that are the opposite of grace.
This blog series could honestly go on for years. The more I have learned about grace, the more I have come to realize how much more there is to learn about grace. I have been able to get a better glimpse of grace, but I’ve also realized how limited my understand was…is…and will to some extent always be. I never want to stop learning about grace, but I also have to recognize that as a limited human being, I will never fully understand grace.
So in this final blog in this series about my journey to better understand grace, I want to share some truths I have come to learn about grace as a way to finish and sum up this blog series.
Something I began to realize early in this journey was the fact that grace doesn’t always make sense. This is true because of the truth that grace is only grace when it’s given to someone who doesn’t deserve it. The definition of grace is “an undeserved gift”. When grace is offered to someone, it’s offered to someone whether they deserve it or not. To accept grace is to accept a gift that we didn’t earn or deserve.
In fact, the reality is that it can only be deemed grace when it is offered to someone who does not deserve it. It would not be grace if someone earned it…the very definition of grace tells us it is an undeserved gift. Not earned, not purchased, not deserved. A gift that is undeserved.
When we show love to someone who has done us wrong or is unloving, we are showing them grace. When we forgive someone before they ask for it, and sometimes even despite the fact they never do ask for it, we are showing them grace. The moment we react to an unkind action with kindness is the moment we begin to show grace.
That is exactly why it doesn’t make sense. As humans, we think if someone wrongs me then I’ll get even with them by wronging them back in some way. We have this idea that if someone is unloving, then they aren’t worthy of our love or kindness. That’s honestly how we as humans often think and perceive things.
Grace is the exact opposite of our natural way of thinking. Grace does not come natural to us. But that is because it is not from us at all. Truth is, grace comes from God. Grace, the act of showing love and kindness and compassion and forgiveness and whatever else fits in this category, is something we learn and get from God. He is the inventor of grace (as well as love, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, etc).
Romans 3:23 tells us very plainly that we are all sinners. Sin is when we choose to go against God’s will and plan; it’s rebellion against the sovereign creator of this universe. When God created us, he created us with the ability to obey or disobey. He loved us enough to not force us to love and obey him, rather he gave us choice. Sin is when we take that choice and go against God in our life.
John 3:16 tells us that God sent Jesus to die for our sins, to take the consequences of our sin on our behalf. God showed us grace by sending Jesus to die in our place. We didn’t deserve it, nor did we earn it, but he chose to love us despite our rebellion. Grace…simply AMAZING GRACE.
If we truly understand the grace God has given us, then the truth is that it should lead us to be so thankful that we can’t help but show that grace to others. Colossians 3:13 speaks of forgiving others as God has forgiven us…it tells us to show grace to others the way God showed grace to us. In Matthew 18 Jesus tells a parable about how we are to show mercy to others because we have been shown mercy ourselves.
It’s not easy to do this, believe me I know. It requires us to not give into our fleshly desires. It requires us to look to God for strength; to allow God to work in us and through us; to trust God and obey what he says even when it goes against everything we want to think and do.
For me, one of the hardest times to trust God and obey him with regards to showing grace is when I feel like my grace is being taken advantage of. I am thankful for the grace God has shown me and I want to show grace to others. But if those I am seeking to show grace to only take advantage of my gracious. that is where I want to draw the line and say “I’m done, no more grace for you” (in the voice of the Soup Nazi of course). I think if we are honest, we all have a “line” of some kind as well…we all have some point where we decide grace should no longer be extended.
It is in those moments that I must remember the truth that I didn’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness, but he gave it to me anyway; the truth that I want others to show me grace even if I make some big mistakes, so I need to be willing to show it to others as well; and the truth that grace means a gift that is undeserved, even when a line has been crossed in my mind. (side note – this does not mean we act stupidly while showing grace. We are to be smart and wise in how we live as well…just not at the expense of grace)
Life is and will always be full of those who we must work to show grace to. That’s just the way it is because we live in a fallen world where people make mistakes and aren’t easy to love or forgive. But we must seek to show grace anyway; because God loved and forgave us, because we aren’t perfect either, and because that’s what grace is all about.
Who do you need to show love, kindness, compassion, or forgiveness to today? Who do you need to be gracious to? You’ve received an amazing gift from God, and he has commanded you to share that same gift with others.
The journey to understand grace is a journey that continues through life. Every year, every week, every day. The journey to understand grace and learn how to show grace will never end this side of heaven. Take it one step at a time. Remember to trust and follow God every step of this journey, because he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).
May we show grace to someone today, and then again to someone tomorrow. May we share the grace God has given to us with others, no matter the outcome.
Here are the links to all the blogs in this series, in the order they were written:
Irony of Grace, Gift of Grace, Insanity of Grace, Thankful for Grace, Faithfulness of Grace, Life-changing Grace, Patience of Grace, The Pain of Grace, The Look of Grace, The Peace of Grace, The Length of Grace, and The Choice of Grace.