For a long season, I was incapable of genuinely giving grace to others. While I found it increasingly easy to share God’s message of unconditional forgiveness and grace with those struggling with fear, hurt, sin, and shame, I found it much harder to extend that same message of forgiveness and grace to people who had offended me.
But God has a way of convicting our spirit when He wants us to change—especially as we accept the things we cannot change and find the courage to change the things we can.
God used Ephesians 4:29 to help me grow: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Over time, I became more aware of my need to extend grace, and I’ve learned to catch myself when I am in situations where my grace is tested. Do you struggle at times to extend grace?
Do you wonder what extending grace really looks like in real life?
I was given an assignment in a seminary class to randomly witness to strangers and journal my experiences. With my busy schedule, I waited until the day before the assignment was due to begin. In a hurry and with the assignment looming over my head, I had errands to run and three stops to make. My first stop was my wireless carrier. I waited my turn, and as I approached the desk, a disgruntled employee greeted me. I politely made my request, and without a kind word, the sales associate attempted to fix the problem with my phone.
My first thought was, I guess I won’t be striking up a conversation with this person. Then God softly reminded me to consider grace. In a matter of seconds, I was challenged to consider the possibility that something in this salesperson’s life was at the root of her attitude. So I extended grace in the form of kind words and compliments. Within seconds, her demeanor changed. She opened up, and it seemed as though our conversation brightened her day. I was even able to share my faith with her, and she opened up about hers. On my next two stops, I had very similar experiences.
How often do we get caught up in our busy lives and neglect to recognize the needs of others?
When we run across people with bad attitudes or who are just downright rude, we have the choice to respond with grace. We all possess the ability to extend grace, but are we ready and willing to do so on a moment’s notice?
Throughout my life, I have experienced many highs and lows, times of breakthroughs that made me hopeful and happy and times when setbacks left me feeling hopeless and hurt. One of the hardest things to do is to extend grace to someone who has hurt you, but grace was exactly what I had to learn to extend to others.
Consider the hurt and pain we cause God when we blatantly sin against Him, when we turn our backs on Him and choose our ways over His ways. Yet His grace is unconditional and unending. He is moved by compassion for our sinful state and is always willing to forgive and forget.
Are we willing to do the same?
To learn more about embracing a life of grace and the Seven Steps to COURAGE, check out my book Courage For Life.