God’s grace is likely one of the most esteemed and fundamental principles of the Christian faith. As Christians, we have all been saved by the grace of God through salvation. He promises us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Grace is an unmerited gift from the Holy Spirit; it frees us from our sins. There is no other way to please God than by accepting His mercy and grace, and living and walking daily in His presence.
However, grace doesn’t stop here. Grace and mercy go hand in hand and both are something Christians need to be practicing and extending to others on a daily basis. Grace began in the manifestation of God. The greatest appearance of grace was the birth of Jesus, the Son of God, born to the unwed Virgin Mary. We believe in Jesus Christ and believe that He died on the cross to bear our sins. He lived a sinless and blameless life yet was scorned and shamed. He was whipped and pierced for our transgressions. He was labeled a criminal and hung on a cross. He died a cruel and painful death because of our sins. Jesus hung from the cross, gasping for air and spoke, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” This is the saving grace of God. Even as sinners, as people who mocked and rejected Him, He never abandoned His place on earth. He went as far as to ask the Father to forgive us for the pain we caused Him as He hung and died on that cross.
We aren’t deserving of God’s grace and mercy yet we receive them and treasure them. We put our faith in the heart of the Gospel that defines the true meaning of love. And while we are never outside of God’s grace and mercy, as sinners we acknowledge the need for His merciful grace on a daily basis.
While we accept God’s grace and mercy, how well do we extend the same blessings to other people? Sin is sin in the eyes of God; our sin is no less than other peoples. Are our family members, neighbors, and enemies beyond OUR grace and mercy? Are their sins more grievous, is their lifestyle more sinful, is their life more in shambles than our own? We all at one time or another reveled in our sins, and if some of us were to be honest, we may still be delighting in our sins behind closed doors. We are all disobedient and we follow our sinful thoughts and desires. We have all turned our backs on the Creator; we deserve our punishment for our wrongdoings. But because God loved us unconditionally, because God is rich in His mercy and grace, we have been made alive in Christ Jesus. It is by grace that we have been saved. And yet so many Christians do not truly understand the meaning of grace and mercy.
What is your response when you see a person hurting? What is your response when you see a person out of jail and looking for a job? What about that homeless man asking for food or spare change? What is your reaction to the LGBT community, persons from another faith, or people with a different skin color than you? Do you offer up that same grace and mercy that Christ so freely gave to you?
The issue of extending grace has been heavy on my heart for years. To be honest, it was not an easy lesson and one that I had to truly be mindful about. It was too easy for me to look the other way, to ignore those who were different than me, or to simply shrug my shoulders at someone who was suffering the consequences for their own choices and actions. What I learned through my lessons of grace was that I too could be suffering greatly from my own choices in life. The difference was, that I accepted God’s grace for my life. In the same way, we ought to be like Christ extending grace to others. 1 Peter 2:21 says this, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”
This is our test of faith. How well do we truly accept and appreciate God’s grace? Do we offer grace to others for their choices, even if their choices hurt or wronged us? Do we love our neighbors as we love Christ? Do we love our enemies well and ask God to bless them? Do you show mercy and compassion for those who are hurting or struggling in life?
Grace is a gift to us from God. Let us not dismiss the example of Jesus Christ lest we become like the Pharisees who knew their bible and yet missed the heart of Christ. Let us begin to extend grace and mercy to everyone we encounter.