It’s Easter time and though I’m ready to put my 2-year-old in a competitive Easter egg hunt this weekend for fun, I also remember what else this holiday means to me. It’s a reminder of God’s unconditional love for me and every other human on this planet. A love that doesn’t have strings attached or lists to follow. A love so rare that we almost literally can’t perceive it with our human brains. A love we can’t earn, buy or even pay back. That’s why it’s called grace. It’s God’s blessing, provision and forgiveness in our lives that we don’t deserve but that we can have simply by believing in Christ and what He did in history.
A Real Life Couple
Recently I was sitting in my church service on a Sunday morning and I noticed a man and his wife sitting in the front. He was in all black with a leather vest and several pocket chains. His hair was longer than mine and pulled back in a neat pony tail. His wife was styled out in her Stevie Nicks wardrobe and gorgeous hair with stripes of purple. Their unique wardrobe in the formal crowd around them wasn’t what stood out to me. It was the way in which they worshiped with such heartfelt gratitude. As if they truly knew what it meant to be dead and be brought to life in Christ. A couple who really knew what grace was and wouldn’t let time, religion or people take that away from them. Their heartfelt worship seemed to express thanks to a God that at some point in their lives pulled them out of the depths of searching for meaning and revived them to the life He died for them to have.
Grace is such a tough topic for some to perceive or even receive for one reason or another. For others it’s a topic rooted in deep gratitude. I think for a lot of people grace is a tough thing to live out. Not that we don’t want to give grace, but that we get grace amnesia. Meaning for those people who have experienced God’s amazing grace for themselves, they sometimes forget what a powerful, life changing and freeing gift they have received. I do it. I see my friends do it. With life and all it’s distractions, it just happens. When we forget about it, we also forget to pass it along to others by freely forgiving others when they do us wrong.
How To Live A Grace Giving Life
I think that it is vital for me as a person who believes in Jesus to live a life that shows others God’s grace as much as I can. It’s one of the most powerful ways that I can be a living example of who Jesus was on earth. This week I felt challenged to think about ways to keep my heart & mind grounded in grace so I could freely give it away on a day-to-day basis. God doesn’t hold my failings against me and I shouldn’t do that to others. Here are my thoughts on living an intentional, grace giving life.
1. What a Grace Giving Life Is NOT
- The grace departing life I’m writing about has EVERYTHING to do with forgiveness and my assumptions about others.
- First and foremost I have to recognize that trying to live a grace giving life doesn’t mean allowing people scam me, manipulate me or abuse me.
- Becoming a grace giving person doesn’t weaken me, it humbles me.
- What I’m writing about today has NOTHING to do with finances or supporting someones self sabotaging habits. It also doesn’t give me permission to stay in abusive friendships or relationships. It does however allow me to move on from those relationships.
2. Don’t Jump To Conclusions-
- Every person on this earth has a life I never see. They have thoughts I never hear. They have struggles I never face.
- The moment that a negative thought or conclusion about another person comes into my head I should just send it on out.
- I have no idea what that person is facing or going through and frankly, believe it or not, IT’S NONE OF MY BUSINESS (even if they do hash it out on Facebook).
- Example: That jerk cashier, might have a loved one on their death-bed and work just isn’t their top priority that day. Tread carefully.
3. Treat Others Even Better Than I Would Want To Be Treated-
- I know I should treat others with respect, just as I would want to be treated but what would happen if I treated others even better than I want to be treated? I want to go above and beyond to treat others well no matter how rude, frustrating, irritating or dramatic the other person is.
4. Forgive Without Being Asked-
- Let’s face it, there are people in life who I know I will probably just never be friends with. That doesn’t change the fact that when I feel wronged, the right thing for me to do is forgive and move on. That’s hard to do, but I bet that Jesus’s human side felt a little wronged when He went to cross. That didn’t stop His plan of forgiveness.
- Some people will never apologize for something because they aren’t sorry, have moved on, forgotten about it or weren’t aware they did anything in the first place.
- An unwillingness to forgive others can lead to hate and resentment. Hate does NOT come from God.
5. Never Forget Where I Came From-
- Being a person who believes in Christ and what He did in history doesn’t make me any better than any other human being.
- The gift of grace God offered me that I picked up and received at 14 years old is the same gift available to every person no matter who they are, what they have done or where they come from.
- Romans 3:22-28 (New Living Translation)- We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26 for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
6. Look For Ways To Surprise People-
- I think grace takes some people by surprise. When another person hands them grace and they know they don’t deserve it, it’s kind of sneaks up on them and they may not even know what to do with it.
- There are many people in my life that I can extend grace to. On a day to day bases I can extend grace to my husband and child. I can pass it out to my best friends and my neighbors.
- Living a grace giving life requires accepting that people in my life are weak, flawed and make mistakes. They will never be perfect and I have things in my own life that are tough to change.
- The same grace I hope others will give me on my bad days is what I need to be willing to hand to them on theirs.
7. Continue Renewing My Mind-
- Simply put, the less I read the Bible and keep my intellectual mind on things the way God does them, the easier it is for grace amnesia to set in.
- Whether it’s a single verse, a chapter or a book of the Bible, renewing my mind daily only helps me to walk in the grace giving life I’m striving for.
- A grace giving life is weird but it’s what I’m instructed to do.
- Romans 12:2 (New Living Translation)- 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.
I hope this post has been an encouragement, a challenge or even a confirmation in your life. As you approach Easter, remember all that you are because of who Jesus is and what He did for you this week, thousands of years ago. He is the ultimate example and source of living a grace giving life.