Grace is such a gift. Anyone who knows what it means to be on the receiving end of grace knows that my first statement is so true.
Grace: getting what you don’t deserve.
If you and I are honest, every last one of us has been the recipient of grace at some point in our lives. It’s a humbling thing. It’s a generous thing. It’s a beautiful thing.
But what happens when grace is hard to give out? What happens when the very thing we so readily received becomes our biggest stumbling block when it’s our turn to extend it to someone else?
The reality is that we will never be lacking opportunity to extend grace. We live in a world that is full of offenses and mistreatments, and we will never be in need of opportunity to extend grace to others. The question is, “What will we do when it’s our turn to give grace?”
One of the things I’ve learned over the last few years as I’ve found myself in countless situations in which grace was needed is to be steadfast in this one commitment:
Refuse to be offended.
That’s right. Short and sweet, but not so simple is it? Simple in theory, perhaps, but not in practice. How many fights and fallouts would we be able to avoid all together if we just embraced those four words? If we just made a decision today to refuse to be offended and instead choose to be a grace-giver, how much less strife, frustration, and bitterness would be present in our lives? It would be minimal at best if you and I would choose to let things roll off our shoulders and give grace just as freely as it has been given to us.
This past week has presented me with plenty of opportunities to practice this, and I found myself wrestling between places of frustration and peace. And in this fight, God gently but firmly redirected my gaze back to His Word—the one place where all things are reset back to a firm foundation of truth. Here are just a few of the verses that I have been focused on:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV)
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
Not sure if you’ve noticed a common denominator yet, but if not, let me point it out to you.
This one word is the conviction that slapped me right upside the head this week. A humble person refuses to be offended, and instead gives out what isn’t deserved: Grace. A humble person considers the needs of the other person before considering their own. Grace. A humble person chooses love and patience over their own voice being heard. Grace.
I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve got to work on this one. Because I get offended. Because I feel the need for my voice to be heard. Because I sometimes like to withhold grace when I feel like giving it out is undeserved.
But that’s not the way of Jesus. Jesus is grace. Jesus breathes grace. Jesus freely gives grace. And so when grace is hard to give, remember the first step towards being a grace-giver is humility.