“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…” 1 Peter 4:10 ESV
How should we respond when someone wrongs us? At the outset, we must make up our minds that we will not stop loving them. Our prayers ought to be directed toward this goal – to be free of everything harsh or negative within our own souls. Once we are resolved on this point, then the rest becomes easy, because even if we do not say or do what might be considered perfect, our response will stem from an upright heart. God can transform our missteps, when the motive is love.
Next, we must respond from a heart of humility. Perhaps the brother or sister has fallen in your esteem, because of his or her sin. Yet, we need to consider the scriptural warning, to take heed lest we fall. We must remember 2 things: 1. We are not perfect, and 2. If we have not fallen in the same manner, then it is only the mercy of God that has preserved us. Their falling should remind us of our common humanity and fallibility, and produce within us sorrow and an attitude of thankfulness to God for His mercy, rather than an attitude of self-righteousness.
Where there is love, and where there is humility, grace flows.
What is grace? It is being prepared to give people a long rope. Just as the Lord declares all repentant sinners free of condemnation or judgment, so in our hearts, their slates ought to be wiped clean. It is the Christian’s hope that the record of our wrongdoing will be permanently deleted – rather than archived and stored – from the divine memory, by the Lord, who has promised to ‘remember them no more’. So we should deliberately dismiss from our minds any thought of our brother’s past faults. Consider their faults as erased – by the blood of the Lamb. Perhaps, the person concerned has not repented, but our constant prayer is that they will soon come to that point; and until they do, our love for them ought to remain undiminished. It is this attitude of heartfelt love, which transforms sinners.
Grace gives people the space – to change. Extending grace to someone means we avoid piling pressure on their souls, because we are aware of their struggles, their feelings of inadequacy and failure. Grace gently nudges the beloved one – the sinner – towards the desired goal. It watches hopefully and rejoices in every sign of change, however slight. It overlooks the slips and the stumbles, and welcomes a long lost friend.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 NKJV). Grace is generous with praise and sparing with criticism. As most foods need a pinch of salt to make them palatable, so there is room for the gentle rebuke or a firm word, while pouring grace. Like salt, grace has the power to fight decay and cleanse.
Grace means being willing to offer more – of love, patience, kindness and praise. It delights to bring peace to troubled souls, while enjoying great rest within. Grace is love in action, and its power to transform, immeasurable. Grace wins, always.
Father, help us to learn to be grateful for the grace poured in our lives each day. Forgive us for the times when we have been stingy with sharing this grace with others. Helps us to be ministers of Your grace to the dying souls around. May grace overflow from us to our brothers and sisters, so that together we may be strengthened and built up for the glory of Your name.