Offering A Grace Card

Grace, true grace, is an amazing thing.   It sets aside justice, it offers mercy and then it goes even further.   Grace gives everyone what we don’t deserve!  It gives forgiveness for our sin and failures.   It’s something only God can do initially.  It typically is not in our nature to offer grace to those who deserve to be punished for their sin and failures.   We don’t even have such an idea in our imaginations, it’s just not in our nature to think that way.   But God has offered grace, shown us what it looks like in our own lives and invites us to imitate that as we relate to other people. 

I am a firm believer that I had no clue as to what grace was really about until I was about 35 years old.  I had been a believer since I was 10 years old and I never knew what grace was.  True…I had experienced it.  When God offered grace, He offered forgiveness for my sin and provided a way to salvation.  I experienced first hand what grace provides to a person.  However, I had no true understanding of what it was and what it really meant to me as a believer.   It took a major failure in my life before I really started to understand grace as it was imparted on me from a forgiving God.

I personally experienced the wrath from other believer’s who passed on judgement and criticism on me as a failed Christian.  Instead of offering love and forgiveness, I experienced the worst of what other Christian’s can do to another believer.   I was not looking for approval for my sin and failure, I was looking for the compassion of fellow believer’s that could help me heal and restore my relationship with my God.  Like a feeding frenzy, I was chewed up and discarded along the way by those who claimed to have accepted God’s grace but had no intention of passing on that same grace to another believer.   I am convinced that those that passed judgement on me and still do to this day, have no real understanding as to what ‘grace’ is.  Because if they did they would not have done what they did.

 I take no joy in the fact that some of those same people who passed on judgement towards me have had struggles and difficulty in their own life as time passed since my failure.  They have now walked the same path that I was on and I have even had many come to me and say that they now understand what I had gone through.  These people have a better understanding of what grace is all about.  My wish is that no one would have to experience what I went through, but I also know that for most of the believer’s I know have never truly experienced difficulty or failure in their life have never understood the importance of imparting grace on another believer.  They will be satisfied to take advantage of the forgiveness and mercy it provides to them without ever offering the same grace to others as it has been given to them by God.

For me, I cannot help but to live the rest of my life trying to pass out as many grace cards as I can.  What is a Grace Card?  A grace card is the love and understanding  given by me to any and all who have stumbled in their life.  Whether that be fellow believer’s or those who have not yet found Jesus Christ and His forgiveness by His death on the cross.  It is only God who can “forgive sin”, I cannot do that.   The judgement for their sin is not mine to make.  As a true believer, I can only love them and try to point them to Christ and do what I can do to get them start or renew their relationship with Jesus Christ.

 Grace…it’s at the very heart of the gospel.   You can’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you will never be good enough for it and yet God gives you all you need and more to live this life.   And then, beyond that He calls us sons and daughters and invites us to pass on this same compassion to others.   How could something like this be possible?   There’s nothing I can do to earn it?   I can’t be good enough to get it?   And yet He offers it freely? And we as believer’s are to pass it on…just as He does.

Yes, that’s grace.   That’s why the message of Christianity is so different from any other.   As I write this tonight, I am reminded of the people in my life that I need to give grace to.   I’m thinking that I need to impart grace on those that have wronged me and I need to forgive those that have caused me harm.   And so I’m trying to navigate grace extended to those who don’t deserve it.   It’s not natural, but it’s what God has done for me, how could I do any less for them?

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2 thoughts on “Offering A Grace Card

  1. You’ve done a very good job with this. Grace is often misunderstood. It seems religious mindsets and territorial underpinnings often push grace aside, along with unconditional love. The Lord certainly has his standards and commandments, and real discipleship is not easy. Only a comparitive few will find the way. I’ve often thought it to be quite strange how some Christians are taught to violate the Lord’s commandments as a way to honor their own understanding of Christianity. People who don’t believe “right” are treated different. We break no laws in loving others the way Jesus does. Yet, grace is only for the fully repentant, as you’ve stated, and the Lord is the only Judge. Thanks.

    RJ

  2. Dave,

    Always enjoy your posts and musings. Here is a question on this all important topic of grace: How does one define grace from a biblical and, yes, theological perspective? Is grace only forgiveness of sin (ours and others) or is it also the desire and power to sin no more and do that which pleases God. Is grace merely compassion for fallen or it also the power to change and not fall as often?

    Here is another thought, if one truly understands grace and has freely given it to those who need it and don’t deserve it, then when and how does that impact bringing up old wounds and looking at old scars or speaking of the past failures of others in the present. I thought you struck the right tone, especially at the end, where you began to talk about how you must show grace to those who have wronged you.

    Perhaps, and I am thinking out loud here (dangerous I know!), if our sin is truly and ultimately against God (see David’s confession, Ps 51:4), then perhaps the “wrath” and mistreatment we receive from others due to the sin we have done, should be viewed as ultimately coming from God as well––as divine discipline/consequences for our sin (David certainly experienced such treatment from his own family and God even said it was part of his divine discipline for David’s sin, 2 Sam 12:10). I am not excusing or ignoring the ungracious treatment of the others, as much as thinking about how I choose to view it.

    Is our view of God big enough-encompassing both His love and His holiness––that we could view such “wrath” from others as being allowed by our heavenly Father as a form of His own discipline for our disobedience? Discipline which He promises will always come to His erring sons and is very painful and grievous for the purpose of greater holiness in the future.

    I guess I am trying to say is if grace is something we don’t deserve when we have fallen, then do we have a right or need to be frustrated or surprised when we don’t receive it from others – even Christians?

    That said, I heartily agree that grace is that gift so freely received from God and so rarely given to others by Christians! That which we so want (even sometimes demand) for ourselves is what we are so slow or resistant to give to others.

    In any case, love covers a multitude of sins and suffers long and all the rest that is so clearly laid out in 1 Cor 13. The grace card is so much more than a “get out of jail free” card. It is the power and desire to work out that which God has and is already working in us…and, at times, it is the spiritual ability to receive from God through others what we actually deserve but don’t really want as a consequence for our sins.

    On a more personal note – Hard to imagine you (we!) are old enough to be a grandpa – you will be a great one! Keep writing and following hard after God as a fully devoted Christ follower!

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