What comes to mind when you hear the word grace? What do you envision? How do you think it feels to receive grace? How do you think it feels to extend grace to others? Recently, these very thoughts flooded my mind. The word “grace” in biblical parlance can, like forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation, mean something as broad as describing the whole of God’s activity toward man or as narrow as describing one segment of that activity. An accurate, common definition describes grace as the unmerited favor of God toward men. In 2 Timothy 1:9, it states, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life-not because of anything we have done but because of his purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time”. How beautiful is it that regardless of the circumstances that we were born into, or the challenges we have faced in our lives, God has a purpose for us, and His grace was granted toward us for that purpose to come to pass? I cannot adequately put into words how thankful I am for God’s grace.
When I think about all the hurt and abuse that I have endured within my life or how most of my life I have battled with depression, low self-esteem, and low self-worth. Growing up in foster care and never feeling as if I truly belonged to anyone. But God! I always prayed to get adopted but that never happened for me. However, according to Ephesians 1: 3-6, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved”. This scripture encourages us to know that no matter what our natural family circumstances and once we accept Christ Jesus as our Lord and personal Savior, we have been adopted into the family of faith. This has renewed my strength and sense of purpose as I look forward to a much brighter future found in Christ. I am truly walking in a different season in my ministry. Also, I see and feel the favor of God in my life. In areas that I used to feel unworthy and insecure, I feel blessed and emboldened. I know that nothing can separate me from the love of God as Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come 39) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. It feels amazing to understand the goodness of the grace of God towards us.
As Christians, it is also important that we learn the value of extending grace to others. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers”. In his book Putting a Face on Grace, Richard Blackaby has some tips for us:
• Speak words intended to build up, not to bring down.
• Focus on the needs of others, rather than your own.
• Freely forgive.
• Swallow your pride and say, “I’m sorry,” and “I was wrong.”
• Live your life with a goal of “no regrets.”
• Don’t keep score of what is fair.
• Don’t condemn or give up on people.
• Emphasize mercy, not justice.
• Read 1 Corinthians 13 regularly.
Always keep in mind that it is by God’s Spirit within that changes us into people who extend grace to others. We know how amazing it feels to receive God’s grace. Therefore, our motivation for extending grace to others should come from our personal experiences of grace. When I think about the goodness of God and all He has done for me, my very soul rejoices! God has a purpose and a plan for our lives. All we have to do is continue to earnestly seek Him and most importantly, trust Him. And we will without a doubt continue to experience God’s amazing grace.