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It’s critical that Christians have grace for others. We’ve got to be people who are merciful and kind, offering the same forgiveness we’ve received from our Father. We need to trust one another’s intentions, look for and assume the best in others, and be patient with those around us. I wrote as much in a recent post, and ended that post by asking in what areas each of us requires grace from others. I also asked how we can exercise our own grace-giving abilities, making the ideas practical in our own lives.
I did so purposefully. Because these two ideas are wholly intertwined and entirely inseparable. It’s not possible to be gracious to others until we first recognize the grace that has been shown, and is being shown, to us. This passage from Colossians 3 paints a beautiful picture of what it means to have grace for one another. Notice, too, there has been an example set for us by our Father:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
If you find it difficult to have grace for others in their inadequacies — or you have trouble separating individuals from their mistakes, annoying tendencies, and sinful acts — I suggest you start the journey towards being a gracious person by listing just a few of the areas in which you seek mercy, forgiveness, and grace from those around you. Some of us did this the other day; I’d encourage you to do it today, though I’m not asking you to do so in the comments section.
There are numerous areas in which this fallen author requires grace from others. Following are just a few of the ways in which I need it most:
- I have a history of sin. I’ve done some very bad and foolish things in my life. And I have indeed been shown grace by God, my wife, my family, my teammates, my friends, my church, and countless others. These people have been Christ in my life, accepting and forgiving me, all the while loving me too much to allow me to remain unchanged. My brothers and sisters have offered me their compassion, forgiveness, accountability, and most importantly their prayers. And God has himself transformed my mind, my desires, and my life.
- I’m fairly opinionated on a lot of issues and usually believe my way is the right way. This is fairly normal, for why would someone choose a way of doing something they don’t think is the best way?* But I go overboard, not seeing the value in others’ opinions or the logic in their ideas. At times I have definitely, in this area, over-tested the grace-giving abilities of those who are close to me.
- This one I hesitate to type — afraid it will come across as arrogant and superior. But I honestly believe I am given a great deal of grace in this way. I am a natural leader. [I’m not sure what combination of character traits makes me so, though I think in general we call it charisma.] There is a natural tendency for people to follow me (I think whether I am right or wrong). And, for this reason, even when I have no desire to usurp a decision or take possession of a conversation, it often happens. I find myself constantly prefacing my comments with, “now this is just my opinion” or “it really doesn’t matter a great deal to me” or “if it were just me.” I’m not sure if my friends exhibit more grace by understanding that others, regardless of my intentions, are likely to follow me — or by putting up with my constant attempts at downgrading my opinions. I’m sure both are extremely annoying.
In summary: The beginning point for me giving Carson grace for his using a loofah and drinking coffee like a little girl is in recognizing that I’m asking Carson to give me grace for always talking about football and shaving my legs.
May God make us a gracious people. May he bless us to view others as he views us. And may we represent him well in our world by loving and caring for others despite their faults.
* One of my biggest pet peeves is when one individual in a debate accuses the other of arguing his side just because he thinks it’s right. Or they say, “Well, that’s your opinion.” I always want to ask them if they don’t also believe what they’re arguing is correct. Or if perhaps they are arguing someone else’s opinion on their behalf. Obviously I think I’m right, or I would think something else. Why would anyone think something they believe is wrong? That really annoys me. I need grace for those people.