“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”
Romans 1:7 New Living Translation
“ …and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”
Matthew 6:12 New Living Translation
For a man with impeccable religious credentials, grasping grace wasn’t exactly easy. With an attitude of superiority ingrained in every fiber of his being and with a disdain for anyone with a differing opinion, the pre-apostle Paul assumed grace wasn’t anything he needed and therefore something he didn’t offer others.
But then Jesus, in a mid-day ambush, interrupted Paul’s business trip. Paul was on his way to Damascus to jail people who didn’t believe as he did. (Acts 9:1-18)
And he was introduced to the issue of grace.
Some of us could use just such a meeting to help us break our world-view of ‘us versus them’ (or more ego-centric ‘me versus them’). Because when we adopt this view of life, it automatically assumes that we are right and everyone else isn’t. And that becomes a crippling condition to our souls.
In every conflict there is almost always a helping of right and wrong on both sides. Pride blinds us to that possibility. Grace acknowledges it and takes steps accordingly. Actions alone, or words spoken, often conceal good intentions or cloud circumstances that if we knew of them would soften our response.
But ultimately, the Apostle Paul came to realize that life grinds to a tragic halt to those who don’t or won’t extend grace to others. That’s why the call to grace is in his opening statements in all thirteen of his letters. It was that important to him.
So how about you this week? Anyone in your life need the lifeline of grace thrown in their direction? Is there a vibrant and life-giving relationship that has suffered long enough in the cold, dark winter of unforgiveness? Would you be willing to call that person in from the cold to sit around your fire and warm their chilled soul?
Lest we forget, there is a troubling bit of theology that Jesus made plain to those who listened to him. You don’t get to hang on to God’s grace and not be willing to give it away to those who require it!
Let’s break down some walls and welcome the unworthy back into grace’s embrace.