Picture this with me.
You are in the drive-thru. Only one car is in front of you but you still end up waiting over 15 minutes, only to get the wrong order when you finally make it to the window.
You are head of a committee. You have five or six people you have delegated to do certain jobs. You are counting on them. But, when its showtime, two of those people are no shows.
You are late for an important doctor’s appointment. Traffic has been a nightmare. Your nerves are on edge, period. As you pull into the parking lot, you think you have gotten lucky with a front row spot, only to see someone whip in and take it right from you.
All of these situations would – excuse my southern phrase – get my panties in a wad. Even if I never said anything out loud, I would be letting them have it in my mind.
I mean think about it. How many situations, every day, do you end up fussing about? Someone hasn’t done their job? Someone shows lack of common sense? Someone makes a decision you disagree with? Someone is rude and inconsiderate? I could go on and on. In this broken world, there is plenty to fuss about…
… And yet, we only see Jesus get upset and angry once. How many times can we say that we figuratively turned over those tables?? When we did it, however, was it because God was being disgraced, or was it for more self-centered reasons??
If your toes are hurting here, join the club. I can get irritated with the best of them. I say things in anger and frustration that I often regret. I get all up-in-arms about things that really don’t matter. I waste my grace.
You see, God gifted us grace that was paid for by the cross. But the sole purpose of that grace was not just to get into heaven. There was a second, equally important purpose. God wanted us to share His grace with others. After all, grace is about Him, not us.
When it comes to grace, we are to be good stewards.
Read John 1:4-17 with me.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
(John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
There are a couple of key phrases I want to pay attention to here. First, Jesus came full of grace and truth. If we are to be like Jesus, we too should be as full of grace and truth as we can possibly get. Sure, we aren’t God’s direct child, like Jesus was, but we do have the Holy Spirit living in us, and if we are striving to fill our lives with grace and truth, God will make sure that is what we get. And when that is what we are full of, guess what will come out? You got it – grace and truth. Not fussing and grumbling.
Next it says We have all received grace in place of grace already given. I love how some translations say grace upon grace. That description makes me think about the phrase wave upon wave. Grace is like the waves in the ocean. They are continually hitting the shore, one after the other. They will never stop. They may ebb and flow, but the waves are always there. Just like grace in a believer’s life.
So if scripture tells us that we have received grace upon grace, why are we so stingy sometimes? Why do we not give it away more freely?
And thankfully this scripture also says, For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. The law was given to Moses, and in the Old Testament, the law served its purpose. But through Christ we have grace and truth. We don’t have to look at ourselves – or at others – through the lens of the law. Jesus sees us through eyes of grace and that is how we should look at others as well.
And when we view others through the grace we were so generously gifted with, then we increase our testimony.
Each one of us tells a story with our lives, whether we like the story we are telling or not. Our choices, our attitude, our lifestyle all tell a story. For believers, that story should continually point back to Christ. Without saying a word, others should learn who Jesus is through us.
Unfortunately, I know that is not always the case with my life. I know there are times I have grumbled or complained, judged or excluded, when I should have offered grace instead.
When we are bitter, complaining, never happy, no one wants to be around us. When we harbor all these judgmental thoughts, we are not showing the light of Jesus. And our testimony is hurt.
On the other hand, think of how inviting we are when we offer grace…when we extend mercy to those who are hurting. When we speak truth in love, others feel welcome in our presence. They see us as a safe place because we are sharing the grace God gifted us.
It’s not our job to pass out judgements like a police officer in a speed trap. And don’t think that just because you are not pointing out their faults they are getting away with anything. God will deal out consequences when necessary. When we withhold grace, we are more concerned with others’ sin than our own. We are more concerned with sin than with God’s grace and glory. And that is not a place we need to be.
We just need to be examples of grace that changed us. We need to speak love and life and truth over the lives of others the way some lovely soul did it over our life.
These are things that build our testimony and allow us to reach and disciple others, which is our point of being here on earth.
Spreading grace makes us happier.
Think about it – have you ever really been happy or content when you were passing judgment or were angry with someone because you felt they did wrong. Did giving them what they deserved really make you happy? I mean, sure, it may have puffed your pride a little bit, but I bet any feelings of accomplishment didn’t last long.
Have you heard the saying that hating someone is like drinking poison but expecting the other person to die? Withholding grace has the same effect. We hurt ourselves when we don’t generously spread grace.
Let’s look at Hebrews 12:2. fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
First, it says fixing our eyes on Jesus, Why? Because he is our example. That is where we should look to know how to treat people and that is where we will find true happiness and lasting contentment. When we focus on Jesus, he becomes our source of joy and honestly, we will naturally act more like him and therefore spread grace.
But look at the next part. It says, for the joy set before him he endured the cross. So, dying on the cross for Jesus was joy. This isn’t saying it wasn’t hard or it wasn’t a sacrifice, but it saying that Jesus found joy in dying for us so that we could be covered in grace. He knew temporary suffering would lead to eternal grace and He was willing to do that – He found joy in doing that.
Now, I shouldn’t have point out the obvious here… but I will. If Jesus found joy in suffering and dying on the cross, so that He could give a bunch of filthy rags grace, who are we to withhold it? Why do we think we are in a position to decide who gets it? I mean, really….
So next time the cashier is rude, the co-worker is careless, the traffic is horrendous, or the family member is selfish, think about grace. Think about the best ways to offer grace to them. Whisper a prayer, extend grace, and then trust God to do His thing.