f a v o r – m e r c y – p a r d o n
It is something I have yet to understand, and I have been raised in the church my whole life. I have heard the word “grace” preached from the pulpit probably more times than I have heard my own name pronounced correctly.
And yet, it is something I am still learning.
At the end of 2014, I didn’t want to make a list of new year’s resolutions — which is amazing because I love myself a good list.
More than anything, I just wanted God to lead and be a part of this year. 2014 was honestly really tough. It stretched me in ways I wasn’t even sure I could withstand. But God demonstrated such a great love for me in that year by being the one to hear my sobs, the one to hear my complaining, the one to bring joy to my heart, the one to strengthen me for each new day, and I can say with painful honesty that I am really thankful for the highs and the lows.
I really felt so strongly, though, that God wanted me to understand (as much as my tiny, human brain can) and give out grace this year. I thought, Easy. I’ve learned about grace my whole life, I’m a nice person, I can do this.
And then moments actually occurred where I had to exhibit grace in its dirtiest terms — UNdeserved, UNmerited. Grace isn’t being nice to everyone all the time. It isn’t opening the door for people, or taking care of someone’s coffee, even though these are many outward symptoms of grace. REAL grace is extending forgiveness when it’s hard, it is looking past failure to see progress, it is loving in spite of every human excuse to not love. Grace is messy, y’all, and anyone who tries to tell you differently is a liar.
I can exhibit grace so easily when it comes to the face-to-face encounters. I can swallow my emotions like water, then put on that brave face and demonstrate grace. I can try my very best to speak highly of others to others when everything inside of me wants to slander them. But when I’m by myself, when I’m overanalyzing like I often do, grace is nowhere to be found. I am bitter, I am angry, I am annoyed, I am consistently shouting, “You’re an idiot!” at them in my head hoping they telepathically get the message, and beating myself up — because grace does not only need to be extended to OTHERS but also to OURSELVES.
I think this is why grace is such a hard concept for us to grasp and recreate — it does NOT make any rational sense.
But neither does God’s love for us, or his extension of grace to us on a daily basis.
It is straight up PRIDE to decide for ourselves that we are too good to extend grace to someone else because of what they’ve done or because of who they are.
Here’s the deal: God of the Universe, in his sinless, pure, holy perfection, the creator of love + justice extends grace to you + me e v e r y day.
How prideful of me to think that my imperfect, unfair, selfish, narcissistic self has the grounds or the rights to decide who gets grace and who doesn’t.
We ALL receive grace from Almighty God on a daily basis — a constant, unbelievable pardon. That makes me want to release grace from a confetti cannon! I want to give it just as freely as I have been given it. That’s really freakin’ hard, and I’m not going to pretend it’s not. We must PRACTICE giving it, and going to the source of all grace. The more time you spend with the source of grace, the more you have the capacity to give grace.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is within me.”
// 1 Corinthians 15:10, esv
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
// Ephesians 2:8-10, esv
“For from his fulness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
// John 1:16, esv