Recently I had an opportunity to show grace, and I failed. Where I could have stepped back and taken a breath, I reacted and became an ungraceful version of myself. I didn't swear, I didn't lie (as far as I know), but I did get defensive in some untruths I was being accused of. Without knowing about these untruths, those unresolved feelings had divided our families for years, and made me angry. What a waste of time to have someone holding a grudge over trivial gossip, or even a misunderstanding. I recovered eventually and remembered my challenge to show someone grace. I took a breath, slowed my voice, and decided that it was better to tell my truth and let God take care of the rest. It was still a tough conversation with someone I was once very close to, but it was a beginning.
How do you show or share grace? Jesus was patient. He was willing to listen. He asked questions. And he always told the truth. I think there were times that He spoke in parables so that a person could listen, learn, and not be demeaned. I'm not saying we should speak in parables! But if we can take a moment to think about what we are going to say and have it come from a place of peace and compassion we will share grace.
In the beginning of John, chapter 8 a woman who was accused of sinning was brought before Jesus. The accusers asked Jesus over and over if she should be stoned for her sin. Jesus was patient, he knelt down and drew in the dirt with his finger. When he stood he said that anyone who had not sinned themselves could throw the first stone. One by one they left. Jesus spoke with grace and compassion and told the woman to sin no more. Does it matter what her sin was? No. Does it matter what theirs was? No. Did Jesus point to anyone specific and call them out? No. What incredible grace comes from the Lord!
Words can be hard. Words can pierce through us in ways we would never expect. Words shape us and motivate us, they build us and tear us down. If you could use Christs example of gracefulness to stretch your gracefulness do you think those around you might begin to feel differently? I do. When you say to others "she is so nice" or "he's one of the nicest people I know" it's because they have shown grace to you. They were kind, friendly, compassionate. That doesn't mean they were perfect. They shared grace freely.
Sometimes I am hopelessly optimistic. That optimism is balanced out by my husband who says he is a realist (not a pessimist). Sometimes my optimism is unrealistic and I may set myself up for disappointment or hurt. But in the end I'd like to believe my heart is kind, and that I will recover from any hurt with the grace of God. It's not to say that the hurts, or even worldly happenings, don't provoke negative thoughts. I am human, and I will fail over and over, but I can work on those negative thoughts by praying for forgiveness and asking for help from God to remove them from my thoughts, and may they never come out of my mouth. Psalm 14:13 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
How do you feel about your heart? Give your heart some grace, and in turn you will share grace when you don't even know it.
Share more and more grace each week just because it feels good.
Until we meet again....