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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Grace

One of the best definitions of grace is undeserved favor.  When we are recipients of grace, we get something that may be hoped for but is largely unexpected and definitely not deserved.  When we extend grace to others, we are giving favor or blessings to someone regardless of whether they deserve it or not.
            Grace is tricky and it is costly.  We usually know when we are not giving enough grace to someone but it is more difficult to figure out if we are overextending grace (is there such a thing as too much grace?).  Our fear with too much grace is we will be taken advantage of.  Our barrier to extending grace is our need for justice in our way and in our time.  “How can we extend grace to someone who is so undeserving, who shouldn’t get any favor at all?”, we ask ourselves.  But that is the very point, is it not?
            Unfortunately, I find that I can have the hardest time being consistently graceful to those closest to me.  I woke up grumpy one morning this week and the family knew it by my less-than-stellar-attitude and tone of voice.  When my son gently challenged me on this, I pointed out the events of the previous day that were contributing to my gracelessness.  He responded, “It’s a new day.”  I wanted to slap him up side the head!  My gracelessness was revealed and the simple truth of Lamentations was my rebuke.  He was right and I didn’t want to hear it.  I thanked him later for saying what was right and true and gave him permission to do it again.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” ” (Lamentations 3:22–24, ESV)
            As a Christian, we are to be people of grace.  We are to continuously give and receive undeserved favor to the world.  But, as Lamentations reminds us, we are to remember that grace doesn’t come from us, it flows through us.  The source of grace is Jesus Christ.  The Lord is my portion therefore I will hope in him” is to be our soul’s cry.  We can be people of grace because God is enough.  He fills us to overflowing.
            I don’t know that extending true grace will ever be easy but we can get better at it.  It is something to be practiced and in the practice of grace, God begins to change our heart.  In giving others undeserved favor we begin to see how much we depend upon God’s undeserved favor in our lives.  We start to have eyes wide open to how others extend us grace much more than we realize.
            My hope for Cold Springs Church is we will be a place of undeserved favor.  I pray we will risk being taken advantage of so others might see the fullness of God’s grace poured out through Jesus.  I long that we would be so deeply rooted in Jesus that his portion and hope would be enough so we could generously give to others.
            Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…

Peace and grace,
David