There have been people in my life who have had an influence and set an example of what it means to be a real, authentic Christian. They have at times, when I have not deserved it, chosen to see the good in me, instead of the bad. They have looked beyond my failures and seen something else maybe I did not see. They understand what Paul meant in Romans 7 versus 18 – 19, And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway (NLT). They have chosen to extend what has been extended to them, The Gift of Grace. They have in many ways been like Jesus who was full of grace and truth.
Grace is a fascinating gift that God has given to each one of us who have experienced salvation. Something we did not deserve or earn has been given freely to us. The question now is what do we do with this grace? As I see it we can a couple of things, we can live in that grace, embrace the grace God has given to us. Or we can withhold grace. We can give this grace out to others or we keep it to ourselves.
As we extend grace to others we become more like Jesus. When we come into his presence, we are amazed at his grace. Because of this, there is within us a need, a desire to connect others to this grace, for them to enjoy this grace. Grace causes our hearts to overflow into other peoples lives.
Chuck Swindoll in his book The Grace Awakening recalls an incident involving the then President Thomas Jefferson and a group of companions were traveling across the country on horseback. They came to a river which had left its banks because of a recent downpour. The swollen river had washed the bridge away. Each rider was forced to ford the river on horseback, fighting for his life against the rapid currents. The very real possibility of death threatened each rider, which caused a traveler who was not part of their group to step aside and watch. After several had plunged in and made it to the other side, the stranger asked President Jefferson if he would ferry him across the river. The president agreed without hesitation. The man climbed on, and shortly thereafter the two of them made it safely to the other side. As the stranger slid off the back of the saddle onto dry ground, one in the group asked him, “Tell me, why did you select the president to ask this favor of?” The man was shocked, admitting he had no idea it was the president who had helped him. “All I know,” he said, “is that on some of your faces was written the answer ‘No,’ and on some of them was the answer ‘Yes.’ His was a ‘Yes’ face.”
When the father was running toward the prodigal son he had grace, when Boaz allowed Ruth to gather grain in his field he extended grace, Ruth could only respond “Why have I found favor in your eyes”. When Jesus came into our lives he had grace. We are always amazed by grace when we see it in action. When Grace happens it can not be restricted, it is generous. It spills over in lives of those around us.
I need to remind myself of this grace. There are times in my life when I forgotten just what grace has done for me. There have been times when I have failed to offer grace, times when I have forgotten that grace cost Jesus, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:6-7)
In the parable of the prodigal son there are three people. The prodigal son, the father and the older brother. When the prodigal son returns home and the father extends grace, we have a picture of someone standing on the outside withholding grace. He saw the fatted calf being killed, he saw the joy, the party that was being thrown and it angered him. Here was someone who should have been in there, enjoying the party. He should have been full of grace, grace was no longer flowing in his life. That is what happens when we no longer walk in grace, we find it hard to extend grace to others.
Someone has once said “Grace changes everything” and it is true. Grace changes who we are, Dl Moody once said “Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.”
One the best things to give someone is grace. To be a grace giver. We give grace as it has been given to us, undeserved.