“As tenderly as a father treats his children, so Yahweh treats those who fear him;”
Psalm 103:13 (Jerusalem).
Ever mess up so badly you just want a redo for the day? the month? a whole stage in your life, when one bad decision compounds with another and another and another until….you are left feeling hopeless? Imagine having Someone put His arms around you, whisper gently that you are forgiven, and point you in the direction of a fresh start. That, my Friend, is grace.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” Sanctification is defined by the same dictionary as “the Christian belief that the suffering and death of Jesus was responsible for the sanctification of all humankind.”
As we approach Good Friday, the true meaning of grace is revealed. No matter how badly we have messed up (and we all do at one point or another), God provided a way to cover us in grace through His Son, Jesus Christ. Think about that… Jesus dying on the cross has been described as the ultimate sacrifice, and it really was. God allowed His Only Child to suffer a horrific death for sins He didn’t even commit, just so He could gather us in His arms and say, “You’re forgiven if you choose to accept My free gift.” Even though He knew the ending, that Jesus would come back to life and be seated on the right hand of His Father for all eternity, He still allowed Jesus to experience the very real pain He felt so we wouldn’t have to suffer eternity in Hell, separated from God forever.
When the Bible talks about how we are saved through grace, looking at it through the above lens, I’m more than humbled God would choose the loving act that He did. Makes me stop and think for a minute the next time I get my feelings hurt, or I perceive a comment as rude, insensitive, or I am “ignored.” If God was willing to carry through with the ultimate form of grace of sacrificing His One and Only Son, who am I to deny extending that same grace to others for a “crime” much less severe than my acts of disobedience which nailed Jesus to the cross?
Yes, sometimes extending grace is awkward, sometimes it’s painful, and sometimes we have to die a little to our selfish motives and think solely about the other person’s feelings. However, it’s still the right thing to do. Sometimes it will be hard to begin or to find the right words to say…
The next time that happens to you and you’re contemplating whether or not to extend grace to a person who has offended you (real or perceived), think about Jesus on the cross, hanging there not by any mistake He committed, but taking on our sins for the sole purpose of reuniting us with His Father. When looked at that way – the only real response is to “just do it.”
Copyright: 2013 Cheri Swalwell