When you read that word, I wonder what your mind thinks of.
I think grace is an amazing, unfair thing. It is like kindness, but it is not kindness. It is similar to courtesy, but it is not courtesy. And then there’s the one that it is most commonly confused for – mercy. It is close to mercy, but it is not mercy.
Mercy is compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power.
Bad is deserved but not given.
Grace is unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.
Good is not deserved but given.
Similar, but not the same.
I am reading in James currently, and there are so many things to do: be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry, keep control of your tongue, do not show favoritism, etc. But do you know what is amazing? Before any of that, there is life-altering grace. Before I read the words of James, before the first time I screwed up on one of these things to do – there was grace.
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Romans 6:14 – “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.”
Romans 11:5-6 – “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.”
I was recently watching a video for my young adults’ Bible study and the session was on grace. In this session, grace was described as an unconditional positive regard and also as unfair.
When having unconditional positive regard for someone else, nothing they do can give you a reason to stop seeing them as inherently human and inherently lovable. …Hard, right?
When something is unfair, it is not equal or just.
We have heard of God’s love being called unconditional and unfair, but what about his grace? It is not often described that way; it is just described as grace.
Now, moving on. We are supposed to be like Christ. So, we need to give grace to others – basic idea.
This does not just mean being kind to people. This means having an unconditional positive regard. That is a tall order. The person at your place of work that gets on your nerves SO hard – have an unconditional positive regard. The single mom in the grocery store that is having trouble containing all that is going on around her cart – have an unconditional positive regard.
It is so easy for us to look at people and say “just do better” because in our minds, it is exactly that two-dimensional. I do it, you do it. We naturally think, “listen buddy – I can see all the sides of your square; it doesn’t seem that hard. Just do better.” When in reality, there are no two-dimensional situations – people are people. They are complex. They have an outer appearance, yes. But they also have things that are not shown on the surface: internal struggles, natural talents, illness, the opposite of talents, a sick spouse, a special needs child, etc.
Now, stop again.
This is so hard. Remember to give grace to yourself because this type of thing does not come naturally. But that does not mean we just do not try. It also does not mean we let everything slide, there are times that call for difficult conversations – but those difficult conversations are not to be without grace.
In the video I watched, the man speaking, Les Parrott, made this statement: “If you want to love like Jesus, you cannot limit your love to those who deserve it. He certainly didn’t.” You may look at the co-worker of yours that frustrates you and think “they do not deserve (fill in the blank) from me because they did not (fill in the blank).” Or you may look at the lady in the grocery store and think “she should do (fill in the blank) better and then her kids would stop (fill in the blank).” Would I enjoy receiving that attitude from someone if they were thinking about me? No. Would you? Ask yourself that. Because the reality is, we do not know what others are going through. Someone looking at me in Subway cannot tell what is going on in my world.
We are offered grace on a daily basis – and I don’t know about you, but I would like to continue to receive that from God and from others. Because sometimes I suck. And I would guess that you and others would enjoy the same. We are all doing our best, but we aren’t perfect. So, let us constantly think to ourselves – “I wonder what that person is going through that I don’t understand or know about.”
I believe that if we could consider grace first, and always seek to extend grace to others before our other natural responses, our world would look a lot different.
Do you believe that God has an unconditional positive regard for you?
What is your favorite verse about God’s grace?
What are your negative natural responses that could be worked on to have more grace?