Saturday, February 15, 2014

Living with Grace

 Living with Grace

When I was younger I believed Grace was just the name of my great aunt. When I learned it was more than a name, I thought it meant being able to move delicately, lightly and effortlessly. I have never had that definition of grace! I am one of the clumsiest people! Finally I have learned how grace is defined and how it applies, personally, to me. Grace is showing favor, kindness, mercy and forgiveness to others.

I learned that grace is more than forgiving others when they ask it of you, which Jesus gave us specific instructions on. Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven
Not only do we have immeasurable grace from God, because we belong to Him, we must forgive like Him, also. Grace not only means forgiveness, but also a gentleness of spirit, a merciful attitude, an attitude of kindness..

 I didnt understand that I had been living by grace since I was born. The definition of true grace has recently become unabashedly clear to me in recent months. I had heard of Gods Saving Grace. I knew that it covered me wholly, but never really understood its real meaning. Let me rephrase that. I understood its meaning as it related from God to myself. What I did not realize was that God bestowed an everlasting grace upon me that I was to share with others.

Following God’s design for our lives, I am striving to live gracefully. I will likely never be gentle on my feet, but it is possible for my spirit and consciousness to become graceful. There are many ways I have the opportunity to show others and sometimes, myself, grace on a daily basis.

My children are people I love more than anything in this world. I’m terribly proud of their accomplishments, I feel for them in their losses and failures. I catch falling tears and bandage a scraped knee. Being as any normal parent though, when they fail to move their book bag and coats to the rack in the mud room, come in the wrong door stomping snow on the dry carpet or spill something, I don’t react gracefully. I yell, holler and turn into someone I am ashamed to see in the mirror. Children are so full of God’s love from a small age. Once I realize that I’m turning into a red eyed nightmare, I try to calm myself. After I have regained my composure, I apologize and ask my babies to forgive me. Never once have they hesitated to accept my apology and make it good with a big hug and kiss. When they do something wrong and come to me for forgiveness, I am just as swift to forgive. We don’t count incidents to see when our compassion cup should be empty, we just continue to grow our relationship without looking backwards.

With family it’s usually easier to forgive, forget and move on. But friendships are a different matter. It’s a delicate line between a forgivable offense, and a friendship ending crime.

If you are in the wrong, and have wronged a friend, you must put yourself in their place to fully feel what your actions did to them. Let your heart crack and break, if necessary, to fully feel the weight of the pain. The writer of Psalms 51:17 assures us that God does not despise a broken heart. We must see to it that we identify not only the wrong actions of which we are guilty, but also any underlying attitudes such as ungratefulness, disrespect, dishonesty, and (my personal demon), pride. Only then, can you prostrate yourself before them to sincerely ask forgiveness.

You must, above all else, pray constantly during this upheaval. Pray for God’s forgiveness in your wrong doing, pray for God’s guidance in saying the right words, praying for God to go before you to soften the heart of your friend. Once you sincerely ask forgiveness, one of two things will happen, and as a Christian, we must be prepared for either. The friend will accept your apology and the friendship can continue, or they refuse to forgive you and your friendship is at its end.

Grace is ours to offer, with either outcome. We must forgive our friend, even though they may never ask for it or feel they need it. The forgiveness is not for them. It is for you. We forgive because Christ commanded us to. If we don’t forgive those that ask it of us, we will not be forgiven by Christ when we ask it of Him! Matthew 6:14-16 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. (NIV)
 I need God’s forgiveness daily and some days I need it hourly.

I found a wonderful resource online while I was praying and studying about forgiveness tonight. I urge you to research your needs with forgiveness and to begin showing grace to others as God has commanded. Please don’t let forgiveness, or the lack thereof, be the thing holding you back from your personal walk with God. Remember, there is always someone watching our reactions to a situation. Be it a Co-worker, mutual friend, church members or our kids. We need to live the truths we want our children to grow up believing.

With all that is wrong in the world today, Christians need to come together under the banner of God’s grace and mercy to lead others to salvation in any way we can. Even if it means we have to forgive our enemies and beg for forgiveness of our own. 

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