Fifty Shades of Grace
Grace. We've ventured into this subject before. It’s a funny thing. Practically impossible for any human to pull off. In fact, it is impossible on our own. I find that one minute I can dish it out so freely without thought or hesitation. And other times I hold on to it so tightly I squeeze the life right out of it extinguishing any possibility of its life-giving qualities to leave my grasp.
It's not really grace when your thoughts and words about the person on the receiving end of said grace aren't also covered in grace is it? What does it look like to you? Biting your tongue when you want to give your opinion even when it isn’t asked for? What if you're secretly judging but not saying anything, is it still grace? What about filling someone else's ears about your opinion of another, is that grace? No, dear friend it's not. If you're going to extend grace and practice it you've got to be all in. It's either grace or it isn't. There are no 50 shades to grace here.
So, how's a Jesus loving person supposed to pull this off? Well, grace of course! The One who demonstrates it perfectly is our example and the way He does it should be our goal. It's like an endless ocean of clouds. Soft. Welcoming. As far as the eye can see it doesn't end. Why would you want to be moved from the comfort and embrace of such beauty? Grace attracts our hearts. We long for it. We crave it. When it's extended to us we're naturally drawn to it. It's such a healing balm.
Grace, it's a beautiful thing when done right isn't it? There's One who does do it perfectly.
The opposite is true, isn't it? Most people know when they're being judged. When grace is the last thing on the givers mind. We're certainly not attracted to it. In fact, we avoid it. We tend to put distance between us and them, don't we?
The Bible says they'll know us by our love for one another. I want to be that person. I want to be the one like I've heard myself saying of them, “this person has to be a Christian.” There’s no other explanation for their behavior. For their clear love for people.
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35
Isn't it interesting that one of the seven definitions of grace in its noun form is describing something we'd be attracted to?
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action.
2. a pleasing or attractive quality.
3. favor or good will.
4. a manifestation of favor.
5. mercy; clemency; or pardon.
6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill is due.
I also like looking in the Thesaurus to expand upon something I'm digging deeper into.
Grace: Unmerited favor. Mercy. Pardon. Generosity. Tolerance. To excuse.
This is where I want to dust off my big ole Bible Concordance and drag it off the shelf and lug it to the table where I can open it up to the section that tells me how many times the word grace is in the Bible. Then I want to go verse by verse and learn. I want to get it into the very deepest depths of my soul. I want it to change me. I want to permeate grace. I want to radiate it to everyone I meet. I want to be genuine in my faith.
I hear you. Grunting, "Don't be a fool." Your eyes are rolling. Trying to warn me. "Don’t just lay down and let people trample over you. Don’t be a fool." But don't you think Jesus showed grace without being a fool or being trampled on? Yes, that was rhetorical. Sometimes, grace looks a little like tough love. I want to have that kind of understanding of grace. Grace is loving all the time. That doesn’t mean we enable people to continue down the wrong path. We build a relation first. We can’t just show up at someone’s very dirty home for the very first time and expect to be able to tell them that "hey, don’t you think you ought to clean up around here a little?" when we haven’t even shown them what grace looks like? What about grace as an example? What about loving people expecting nothing in return? What about showing them what a clean house looks like? What about caring more about their soul then their house?
I did grab that concordance, and yeah, the word grace and gracious are in the Bible over 200 times. I want to dig deep into it and find out for myself what it really is.