Have you ever thought back to a conversation only to realize something you said must have sounded so hurtful or inappropriate? I have begged God to please do not let the person be mad or even think about what I so innocently, yet thoughtlessly said.
There is a verse in Psalms 4:1 in The Message which accurately accounts my own prayers at times,
“When I call, give me answers. God, take my side!
Once in a tight place, you gave me room;
Now I’m in trouble again: grace me! Hear me!”
Oh, how many times God has extended grace to me. Oh, how many times I have begged for grace!
I was called on the carpet by my own mother-in-law many years back. I was “innocently” chattering about the struggles of a family member who was dealing with cancer at the time. A cancer survivor herself, in only her loving special way, she made a comment and turned the conversation just enough for me to get the point, but all the while not making me look like a total babbling idiot.
That my friend, is grace.
Grace is defined as unmerited favor, an undeserved gift, or simple letting someone off the hook when they have been caught by their own actions.
Have you ever done something innocently, only to realize later it had been against the rules? This could be the story of my life more than I would like to admit.
Grace is one of the most beautiful virtues God created. Story after story in the Bible shows God handing grace out like it was candy. Sometimes it is so subtle we don’t even realize it.
It isn’t that God doesn’t expect us to do the right thing and simply looks the other way when we disobey, no He totally expects us to obey. He demands, even commands righteousness, being right with Him. He tells us over and over to “be holy, because I am holy.”
The difference is simply love. Yes, his expectations are warranted by His own holiness. Yet, in His own loving special way, he gets our attention and turns us just enough to get the point without making us look like we are condemned.
He not only does this for people who might deserve it or might be worthy of it, but he also extends this to those who do not.
Take for example, the very ones who nailed Jesus to the cross. Jesus prayed that God would have grace and forgive them. They were offered the same chance to see what they had done was wrong, just like someone else who might have innocently done something wrong.
The beauty in this is He expects us to extend this same grace to those around us.
How many times have I been frustrated and angry even at others for their seemingly outright negligence or behavior? How many times have I assumed the wrong thing about someone and grace was the last thing I had to offer them?
Grace is beautiful. Try it sometime. This is not my usual “go-to” reaction. But, for all the times, and yes there have been many, I have committed my own faux pas, I was so thankful when someone showed me grace.
The next time someone does something to make you mad and you feel like they should have known better, try extending grace. It doesn’t always mean overlooking an offense, although that is often all it takes, but rather gently and encouragingly turning the person’s perspective towards God’s direction.
May we all realize just how much grace we ourselves have received and turn and show it to those around us.
Grace me! Grace us!