The fifth of the nine words in this “Words” Blog Series is…
Like I had shared about being faithful, Grace is another one of those words that comes with some requirements. While the idea of being faithful requires going through hard times, grace requires something wrong or hurtful or difficult or that we don’t like to happen. Grace cannot be offered until after something that we don’t like happens.
If everyone was perfect, there would be no need for grace.
Of all the words that have become so meaningful in my life during the past 3 years, this one has been the biggest. This is a word I thought I understood. But after all the things in my life that were lost or taken from me, I came to realize that I had much to learn about grace.
About the grace that God gives to me. The grace that I am to show to others. Grace that God gives to others. And even grace shown to me by others.
I have learned that grace can be cyclical. The more I admit and recognize my need for grace, as well as accept grace for myself, then the more I may be willing to share that grace with others. And conversely, the less I admit and recognize my need for grace, or the less I accept grace for myself, then the less I may be willing to give grace to others.
I have learned that grace doesn’t just involve mercy, but also includes forgiveness and love and patience and kindness…all the things that we struggle with when we have been wronged or have to deal with situations we don’t like, but at the same time wish others would show us in similar situations or moments.
I have learned so much more of just how amazing God’s grace is. He is “slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression” (first part of Numbers 14:18), and he is “merciful and gracious…and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). God shows me mercy and love and patience and forgiveness and kindness when I don’t deserve it. He shows me grace.
Far too often, I argue with God’s grace. I don’t want to accept it for myself, because I expect myself to be perfect…and when I’m not, I get upset with myself and have a hard time accepting his grace. But who am I to argue with God?? If God, who is perfect, is willing to show me grace when I need it, then I need to learn to accept it and be thankful for it.
Far too often, I don’t know how to receive grace from others. Based on past experiences and tendencies or learned behaviors I have of trying to always be perfect, I don’t always know how to receive grace when someone shows it to me. But why wouldn’t I accept it?? I know I need it. I know I’m not perfect. So I need to learn to receive that grace from others.
And far more often than I care to admit, I can easily allow my hurt feelings to turn into anger…which can turn into bitterness if I’m not careful. When I allow that to happen, I don’t want to show grace to others as I should. But I also know what God’s Word tells me concerning how to treat others…even those who have hurt me deeply. “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, 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. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:12-14). So if I truly desire to follow God in this life, I must learn to work hard at obeying his Word, even if it means showing grace when I don’t want to.
This has been the biggest of all the words in my life the past 3 years because of how much I’ve learned about it, as well as how much I’ve had to grow in it.
But it has also been the most difficult of all the words in my life the past 3 years. Because I’ve been hurt so deeply, I’ve felt completely betrayed, and I’ve learned so much more about myself and my own insecurities and struggles.
Grace, quite honestly, was not my first thought or choice in those instances. Anger was. Shame was as well. Disappointment, bitterness, guilt, unforgiveness. All of those were the first reactions I wanted to have. But not grace.
Yet, God pours out his grace on me, even with my insecurities and struggles. God gives me his grace when I feel shame. And God calls me to pass along that same grace that he has shown to me to others…to those who have hurt me, betrayed me, and wounded me deeply.
Grace cannot be offered until after something that we don’t like happens. Either something that we do, or something that someone else does. Grace can only come after.
There is a passage in Romans 12 that when we read it, I think our first thought is “Yea right! That’s crazy, and ridiculous, and impossible. I can’t do that!”
And to be honest, without God’s grace, we can’t. It’s not our human nature. It goes against what we think and how we feel and want to react. But with God’s grace, it is possible.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:17-21)
That passage does mention that God will repay. And earlier when I shared Numbers 14:18, the second half of that verse says that God will deal with sin. But we are not God. It’s not our job to try to exact his vengeance on someone who has wronged us. We are to show God’s grace, and leave the rest up to God.
When we begin to truly let God’s grace pour into our lives, and we start to accept it and live in it and show it to others, then we can begin to live according to that passage. It’s a process, it doesn’t happen all at once, and it won’t always be easy. But it is possible.
May we learn to accept God’s grace toward us more and more. May we learn to show God’s grace to others more and more. And may we learn to live our lives in awe of God’s amazing grace.