Grace-full moments. We can't live without them. When we extend grace to others, despite our flaws and weaknesses, we reflect something of the very nature and character of Christ.
With grace, sin becomes the enemy, not people. What was it that enabled Paul to endure such sinful opposition and rotten attitudes from a group of people (the Corinthian church) for whom he risked his life to reach for Christ? What was it that kept him coming back and writing, instructing, and teaching, even when it seemed that none of it was sinking in?
With grace, our souls enlarge and we give people space. What Paul wanted from the Corinthians had nothing to do with their graceless suspicions of him or his differences from them. His gracious heart and concern are easy to detect in a few of his last written words to them: "Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you.... I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?" (2 Corinthians 12:14-15).
The attitudes and issues facing the young church at Corinth would have drawn a scathing rebuke from many other leaders. Paul chose, however, to speak the truth in a spirit of love, because the Christ he had come to know was "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Accordingly, Paul reflected to them what he had already received from God. He gave them grace and he gave them space.
How refreshing it is to be in the company of a gracious person. Gracious people love without condition; despite our political preferences or doctrinal differences or ethnic diversities; regardless of our taste in music, clothes, movies, or hobbies; and beyond all our faults and weaknesses. Perhaps we are never more like God than when we give grace to someone.
So how can we, like Paul, become grace givers? Start by asking some questions:
- What am I living out of, grace or anger?
- What fuels most of my actions or reactions toward people? Racism or gracism?
- What is behind the words I use as well as the inflections and tones in them?
- Do I believe for the best in people – or expect the worst?
- Do I expect too much of the people in my life?
- Do I look beyond the faults on the surface and see the desperate needs within?
- Do I endeavor to make people feel comfortable?
- Do I know how to give grace?
- Am I really interested people who are different than I am, and if so, how do I show it?
- Am I more interested in others or just trying to get others interested in me?
We can quickly get caught up in the idea of a grace that makes a way for us to enter heaven, but there is another aspect to Christ's work on the cross, something he wants us to see today. Christ wants to use my life and yours to bring some of heaven to earth and into the lives of the people on this planet, and the real realms of our relationships...in the form of a gift called grace.
Samuel Rodriguez appears on LIFE TODAY this Monday. This is an excerpt from When Faith Catches Fire by Samuel Rodriguez. Copyright ©2017 by Robert C. Crosby and Samuel Rodriguez. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Used by permission.