“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet…”
Human nature…it gets me every time. I read it in the headlines, see it on the television, and who am I kidding…I struggle with it. This idea of grace, it is so foreign to us. It doesn’t come naturally. We are conditioned to think and feel a certain way about people based upon a whole lot of things that matter not. We allow appearance, status, accomplishment, or lack of all the above to formulate what we think or how we feel about one another. Even if there is depth to a person character, passion within their heart, grace flowing from their soul we sometimes miss it because we struggle so deeply with our own inability to understand the full selflessness of grace.
So many of us are so desperate to be heard that often times words flow from our mouths before the full weight of our words can be considered. I cringe as I type…how often have I said an insensitive word, vented my anger before thinking a situation fully through, been rash to judge based on the superficial? How different the world would be if we were truly the change we wished to see, if we offered the same of kind of love that was lavished on us when we were so undeserving of it. What is so radical about Jesus Christ is this small, unassuming five letter word…G R A C E. Who knew five letters could carry so much weight…could be the catalyst to change the world. Yet so many of us who claim to love Jesus struggle with showing the very thing He lavished so freely upon us. Grace often alludes us even as we desire to grow closer to the Savior who is the very embodiment of it.
“Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped…”
As turn I on the evening news I cannot help but be discouraged. In fact I often find myself avoiding the television rather than engaging in the current events of the world. It is difficult to keep your head above the all consuming cultural wave that claims we have the right to demand things our way. Race riots rage, crime flourishes, relationships fracture…as the human condition slips further away from what we were created for…to be worshipers of God. We have been caught up in the vortex of self and if you do not serve me or my desires you are disposable…not worth my time. The image of God has become so distorted that for many it’s hard to remember that this whole thing called life is not about us at all but all about Him. Even in the realm of knowing Him we still stomp our feet when things don’t go our way…we debate to prove we are right…we shout truth only to find that where there is no grace there will be no one listening.
“Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us…”
When will forgive each other of the unpardonable sin of being different? Now that is not fuzzy theology…it’s actually not theology at all. You see, we humans struggle with our differences all the while God shakes His head in disbelief. Our differences are all the beautiful elements that make up His collective masterpiece and yet we miss it over and over again. Instead of picking one another up we delight in each others shortcomings or weaknesses…it makes us feel better about ourselves. Or even worse we exploit the least of these instead of taking care of them. We harbor bitterness and anger…refusing to offer forgiveness. Why oh why do we hold ourselves in the bondage that Christ died to set us free from? Why oh why do we not emulate our Savior? As His blood heals the wounds of our sin why do we struggle to extend the grace He so richly showed us?
“Charity is expecting the best of each other.” ~ Elder Marvin J. Ashton
I write this blog not to condemn others for I am also guilty of not extending grace. For letting my wants, desires, opinions, and preconceived notions override and cloud my vision. No, I write this blog to remind us all that we were meant for so much more…God desires so much for us and from us.
I have a friend that I often tease, I tell her that she needs to teach a grace class and I can be her first student. She exemplifies the simple, beautiful grace that our Savior Jesus Christ demonstrated. It’s in the softness of a gentle touch, the encouragement of a kind word, a new perspective offered when disappointments and anger arise, it’s the sweet symphony of acknowledging a wound or a hurt yet understanding that with every set back and trial comes a great opportunity for growth. It is in the knowing that life is messy and hard for everybody and sometimes we need to step aside of ourselves to recognize the season of life someone else is in. Grace is understanding that it’s not all about me, it looks at the big picture. Grace is what will resonate with someone long after a moment is over.
“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ 1 Samuel 16:7
What is so radical about grace is that it is so counter-cultural. It defies everything we have been taught to be true. That life operates on some sort of merit scale, the more you do the more you earn. The beauty of grace is God exclaiming His love for His people regardless of their brokeness, regardless of what they can or cannot do, regardless of their social status, wealth, or accomplishments, regardless if the world finds them appealing or not. God’s grace is demonstrated so powerfully in that he loved us enough to save us, through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, from the sin that separates us from Him. God loves us all and He has uniquely created us for a purpose in His kingdom…His desire is to transform lives. Those who live in the dark do not even realize this and those living in the light often allow their focus to become blurred from what matters most to God. Be the change we wish to see in the world…if Christ followers lived a life of radical grace, grace like Jesus demonstrated, how the world might change, how they might stop to pay attention. Grace is indescribable until you receive it…then it doesn’t need to be described at all. It was never meant to be an essay or a short-story…it was always meant to be a lifestyle.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” ~ Romans 12:2
Tonight I had a gut check. I desired grace to be demonstrated in others when I struggled to extend it myself. As I sat down to type I recognized that grace is something many of us struggle with. I was prompted by a holy discontent burning within me…a discontent with myself. Grace and love have been lavished on me through my Savior, Jesus Christ how can I not in turn pour that very grace out unto others? He is the hope of the world and He chooses to use me and every other Christ follower to be His light…to illuminate a darkened world. What an honor and privilege that is. There is NOTHING greater that I can do in this life than be the light of Jesus Christ. How can I do that? I will be the change I wish to see in the world by living a life of radical grace. I will show kindness and consideration. I will give the benefit of the doubt and not rush to judgment. I will show compassion and understanding. I will remember what matters most to God should matter most to me and that is the heart of a person. I will recognize that God does not make mistakes. He creates us all uniquely to bring something fresh and vibrant to the tapestry of life. We all matter, we are all important, and Christ died so that we all may live. That my friends is what grace is all about.