Who hasn’t encountered a time or two when you were wronged and subjected to cruelty, and unkindness? Maybe it was just simple thoughtlessness on the part of the other…be it foe, family or friend. A show of hands would fill a room. Who among us would also agree that our Christian demeanor can fade like a rainbow when our reputation, character, feelings, are challenged or insulted? What man or woman doesn’t want to react?
We read the Bible and it’s evident that throughout Christ’s ministry he was to suffer greatly from verbal and physical abuse. His enemies (and sometimes so-called friends) worked overtime to berate, degrade, or not believe him as the Son of God. And we certainly know that the disciples had much to endure, too. Christ’s perfection makes his ability to withstand it understandable, but what sustained the others and turned the urge for personal vindication into words of truth, peace, mercy, and love?
Enter GRACE… God’s saving GRACE … the manifestation of his MERCY expressed by his love. So we received unmerited favor and blessings extended freely from the hand of God, to transform sinners like you and me into ones who love and obey him. Nothing in our lost sinful state qualified us. We didn’t deserve it or earn it. (John 3:16)
So when we look at Paul’s expressions of “GRACE TO YOU…” in the salutation of his letters, have you thought that if God’s GRACE saved me why continue extending it? Paul knows of and is speaking about the ongoing blessing of GRACE we receive to be able to live for Christ. No conflict here with saving GRACE. Since every good and perfect gift comes from God, it makes evident God’s character abounds in lavishing GRACE upon his children. (Eph. 1: 1-8)
Since GRACE expresses God’s character, doesn’t it make sense that our expression of grace to others would also? It’s true, we know from scripture, that obedience brings honor to God and by setting aside our self he is glorified. Ah…the old self thing! But here’s another truth that really brings praise…God’s GRACE empowers us to be gracious to others regardless of…… whatever!
Take Joseph for example, who after all the cruelty his brothers had inflicted upon him, in Genesis 50:20-21, he spoke this from his heart: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good… Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” Joseph trusted God, believing his (God’s) plans were to prosper and not harm him! (Jeremiah 29:11)
Is God’s GRACE TO YOU and me amazing and sufficient enough for us to lay aside our ‘self’ to mirror his GRACE to others? It is. Pray God’s help to extend his GRACE …it comes from a heart of gratitude.