Grace For Today
You and I need grace for today. It is impossible to live this life without mistakes. Thankfully, God gives us grace every single day. He gives it new every morning, just like he gave manna to the children of Israel. In Ephesians 4:7-8, it reads, "But to each one of us grace is given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says, 'When he ascended on high he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.'"
Our lives are richer when we embrace this grace, day by day. It is like drinking water...one glass is good for a short time, but then another is needed to keep us hydrated. Grace is the hydration for our souls. It is what keeps our kindness well-lubricated. It is what fills us with the ability to extend grace to others.
Have you noticed that when we are appreciated for what we do, it is much easier to appreciate others? Grace works in a similar way. God extends his grace to us so that we are not overcome by feeling defeated in serving him. When we do not praise him enough, he extends grace. When we do not follow his commands and despair sets in, he extends grace. When we hurt others, either intentionally or unintentionally, he extends grace. Without grace, the guilt of these can cause us to despair and quit trying to live for him.
Grace gives us hope. Ephensians 2:8-9 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." You and I need hope every day. Grace adds wind to our sales. It gives courage to face tough circumstances. Grace makes quality relationships with people possible.
In the book of Titus, Paul is instructing Titus, who is his assistant, in leading the churches. He is giving Titus his itinerary for his coming trip to the churches. In this he is telling Titus what to teach the differing groups of people. In Titus 2;11-14, he says;
" For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good."
God's grace is in the offer of salvation through Jesus. God's grace is in the willingness of God to forgive our sins. God's grace is essential for living to please him. Consequentially, God's grace fills us up to turn and then extend grace to others. If you struggle to extend grace to others, then consider asking God to allow you to grow in your understanding of grace. Ask him to enlarge your capacity to take in the grace of God.
My own understanding of grace and the capacity to accept and take in grace, grows continually. It grows the most during the times just after I have made poor choices and faced trials. Day by day I learn how much I need his grace. I am thankful, and so hopeful, as I experience God's grace in my life. How then could I not extend grace to others?
Grace is not allowing others to walk all over us, though. If you were at a cafe and received an awful tasting sandwich, you would not ask for seconds. Likewise, when we are treated wrongly, we are not "more spiritual" if we keep going back for seconds. That would make us slow learners! Jesus also modeled correct behavior for us.
Just look at Matthew 10. Jesus was sending out his disciples to go on their first missionary trip. He gives them instructions, warning them to be careful of the local councils (the religious administration). He tells them to beware of family members who will oppose them. He even told them that if a town wouldn't offer hospitality to them, they were supposed to shake the dust off their feet when they left. So when did we lose track of this?
Check this out as well. In Matthew 22, Jesus addressed the Sadducees (who said there was no resurrection). Then Jesus turns his attention to the Pharisees, who disclaimed him as the Christ. These were the religious groups of the day. He raises the issues that were not in the Word that they based their faith on. They didn't like it. They had been plotting about how to get rid of Jesus.
Then, in Matthew 23, when he is teaching to a crowd of people he further addresses the Pharisees. He calls them out, saying, "Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!" (Matthew 23:15a) He further charges them and call them blind guides and blind fools. Then he calls them a brood of vipers (Matthew 23:33). He calls them out!
So here is my question...when does he go back and make nice? Where is it that he apologizes and seeks forgiveness? Shouldn't he make amends and 'turn the other cheek'? No. I will say it again, no. Grace is not ignoring and condoning wrong behavior and attitudes. Jesus didn't do it and neither does he want you and I to condone it.
Extending grace allows for restitution, but does not demand it. Restitution is a two way street. Grace is a one way extension to allow for change and growth. Grace is choosing to let go of the wrong internally. Grace doesn't erase the offense. That is forgiveness.
Being gracious does not mean we park our brains at the door and act foolishly. We can stand up for what is right and still extend grace...just like God does. His offering of grace doesn't take away consequences for sinful choices. It doesn't make it ok when we treat people wrongly. It doesn't look the other way when people want to treat us wrongly either. But it does give hope to make changes and act a new way.
Grace is essential to us.