Grace is the very opposite of merit… Grace is not only undeserved favor, but it is favor shown to the one who has deserved the very opposite. ~Harry Ironside
I was dropping my kids off today at school. I parked and went to walk my kids across the crosswalk as I do every morning. A woman hesitantly stopped for me to allow my children to walk across. She glared at me as if she was doing me a favor (but she really didn’t want to). I snickered under my breath and thought, “Unbelievable.” My husband once told me that I didn’t hide my facial expressions very well. I guess it showed because I received a second evil glare as she drove past. “Isn’t this a Christian School?” I thought to myself, “Aren’t parents suppose to slow down if children are crossing?” I was more annoyed that she was acting as if I was inconveniencing her- it was obvious she was late and in a hurry.
As I drove home and reflected I heard a still small voice. Not audible- just in my heart. “You need to have more grace for others.” And at first my pride tried to shout out, “Uh, hello Lord, did you see the way your ‘supposed’ daughter just acted towards me?!” (I could almost hear my children’s usual banter, “But she started it!”).
And then the Lord told me that His grace is for me even when I don’t deserve it; even when I’m being ugly. He asked me if I would give others that exact same grace, even when they don’t deserve it. After all, isn’t that what grace is?
And He didn’t stop there dealing with my heart. I wondered why I always felt like He was dealing with me (again hearing my own children’s arguments in my head, “But it’s her fault!”). Then He showed me that He is always at work on everyone’s heart. At that exact same moment He was trying to work on my heart He was working on her heart too. It’s just that not everyone is going to listen when He’s working on their heart, and that it’s not up to me to try and deal with her heart. I’m responsible for how I respond. Her actions are between her and God. My response to her actions is between God and I. Instead of being worried about how other people treat me, I need to be more concerned about my own heart and how I will respond to them, not if, but when they act ugly towards me.
Grace- undeserved kindness.
Is the kindness I show to others based on how they treat me or am I able to return a smile for an insult? And not the kind of sarcastic smile I can give when I’m annoyed either. A genuine, “I’ll love you anyways” smile. Grace. You don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve it. But every single time we allow our flesh to be in control and act ugly towards someone, instead of a heavy hand swooping in from heaven, we hear- my grace is sufficient for you. I love this quote from a book called Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges- Grace is God’s free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment. It is the love of God shown to the unlovely. It is God reaching downward to people who are in rebellion against Him.
It’s because of His grace, that I see my sin for what it is- sin and I am quick to repent for my mistakes. It’s because of that grace that I received (and receive daily) from Him, that I should be able to give grace freely to others. Remember, we never know what someone else has had to walk through. I don’t know if that lady had a fight with her husband that morning or is going through a divorce. I believe our grace towards someone who does not deserve it is like pouring out water to someone who has been stranded in the desert- life giving and refreshing. We’ve received it so freely- why do we insist on holding on to it?
If grace were a person, (and He is- He is the person of the Holy Spirit), what would He say? This is what grace would say:
In a line, grace says, “Go ahead of me.”
Even though you aren’t treating me kindly, grace says, “It’s okay. I have no idea what you’re going through.”
Grace says, “Here, have the last one.”
When driving, grace says, “go ahead, get in front of me.”
To your child when they make a mess, grace says, “It’s okay, I’ve made messes too.”
Grace says, “I’ve been there; it’s okay.”
When your spouse has let you down or disappointed you, grace says, “I forgive you.” (And then you really let it go).
To a friend who is running late, grace says, “It’s okay; I’ve been late too.”
To the person who is a little rough around the edges, grace says, “It’s okay; I’m going to love you anyways.”
To the person that offended you or really hurt your feelings, grace says, “I forgive you and choose to let it go.”
Lord, I’m so thankful that you don’t give me what I deserve, but you pour out undeserved favor. I am thankful for the gift of grace that’s been given in my own life. Today I ask that you would help me pour out that same grace to others. Before I’m about to respond or react, would you gently whisper, “grace, give grace”. Lord, that people would see You in me- not in my own strength, but because of your Holy Spirit that lives in me. Grace- I receive your grace today for all of my many shortcomings and I choose to freely give that grace away. In your precious name, amen.
Romans 3:24- all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.