Our small group recently completed a series by Philip Yancey entitled ‘What’s So Amazing About Grace?’ Over several weeks we studied the concept of grace, what it looks like, how we apply it in our lives and whether or not grace is always possible.
Here are a few thoughts and reflections on my personal journey as I sought to understand what is so amazing about grace.
Many years ago someone very close to me told me a story about grace. The woman had lost her four year old son in a car accident. The driver of the car had been drinking and her son was not wearing his seatbelt.
She said: ‘I knew I had to forgive the driver. Nothing else would release me from the pain I felt. I knew seeing that person suffer punishment or seeking revenge on them would never bring my son back.’
I was quite young when she told me this story but I instantly believed God had been at work. This woman was not a Christian but God was with her in that moment when she decided to offer the gift of grace.
To me that’s what’s so amazing about grace. It is undeserving. The driver of the car had robbed this woman of her precious little boy but she chose to forgive. What a demonstration of the power of grace. How amazing!
We commit sin all the time and we receive God’s grace. We do not deserve it but we receive it.
‘Grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I can do to make God love me less.’ – Philip Yancey.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will He harbor His anger forever;
He does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His love for those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
The following points also resonated with me during our study of grace. They demonstrate what happens when you forgive.
You surrender your right to get even.
Our immediate reaction to being wronged is often the desire to inflict pain upon those who have hurt us. The verse ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ comes to mind. We want revenge. We want to punish. However, grace removes that instinct and replaces it with love. It is not always easy to offer grace but ultimately it is God’s will. In doing so we surrender our right to get even.
You give your enemy’s humanity back.
It is easy to think of those who commit horrendous crimes as inhuman. We label rapists and murderers as ‘monsters.’ We separate them from society. However, they are sinners as we are sinners. They are human as we are human. Sin cannot be measured. All sin is wrong whether we tell a lie or commit the ultimate sin of taking someone’s life. Grace allows us to see the enemy as human in their broken, sinful state. In this way, perhaps, it is possible to understand why all people can receive the gift of grace.
You get the freedom to wish that person well.
Grace releases you from the burden of bitterness, anger and resentment that occur when you have been wronged. Grace allows you to make peace and to reconcile. It doesn’t mean you will become best friends. It doesn’t mean you will have a relationship. Grace simply allows you to let go of pain, to show love and to wish that person well.
You are willing to be open to what God wills.
The process of forgiveness can be quite difficult. You might ask yourself ‘if I choose to forgive this person, then what do I do?’ It’s important to know that we don’t have to worry about the ‘what next?’ We simply have to offer the gift of grace and accept that God’s will be done.
Sometimes forgiveness seems like an unnatural act but because of God’s unconditional love for us it is always possible.
I’ll finish up with this. Before writing this blog I brainstormed what I understand grace to mean. Here’s what I came up with:
Grace is undeserved.
Grace is constant.
Grace is courageous.
Grace is powerful.
Grace is possible.
Grace is healing.
Grace is love.