Monday, January 2, 2012

giving out grace:what does it look like?

Grace is a word I hear alot in Christian circles and it is a major theme throughout Scripture. Grace is what God pours out on us through the finished work of Christ on the cross. Grace is God's undeserved, unmerited favor. God's mercy means that he withholds what we do deserve and His grace is His extending to us what we do not deserve. We deserve an eternal existence in the flames of hell but instead, God lavishes upon us the gift of eternal life. He has redeemed us through the shed blood of Christ...He has forgive our sins.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.(Ephesians 2:8&9)

So grace is God's love demonstrated toward mankind. Because we are all sinners, we need God's grace. we cannot save ourselves, so He did it for us, once for all time, by sending His Son to take the punishment for sin and to pay the price that the sin of the world demanded. Because of this we have grace from God. We did not nor can not earn His grace. It is freely given at a great cost.

We who believe in this finished, redemptive work of Christ become the recipients of God's grace. Grace is a hard thing to grasp; especially the idea that God loved us while we were still sinners. And even in our sinful rebellion He loves us and never lers go of us. He knows that we are human...that we make mistakes and that we are limited in our knowledge of Him and inable to live up to His holy standard. So, in His mercy He had overlooked our past sins, not holding them against us, and in His grace He grants us eternal life and an inheritance that is immeasurable in value.

There is the Biblical definition of grace. So what am I to do with it? As I walk this earth in this body of flesh, born again of the Spirit, forgiven of my sins, knowing what awaits me at the end of this life, will I keep it to myself, or will I reach out to others with this same love God had poured out on me? And what does that look like on a practical level?

It means forgiving our debtors, as God has forgiven us. It means not holding grudges or harboring ill feelings towards those who may have wronged us.It means recognizing that all humans are imperfect and that things happen in the lives of others that we often don't know about or consider, which may be contributing factors when they did us wrong. It means realizing we all make mistakes. The one who dod me wrong os no more perfect than I am. God shed His grace on me, a sinner. Therefore, as the recipient of His free gift of love, my response id to extend this same grace to others; especially those who have done me wrong.

With the HUGE debt I owe to God gone, I have no room or reason to hold onto the sins others have committed against me. God's command to us is to Him with all our being and our neighbor as ourself. God is asking us to give out to one another what we have received from Him

Matthew 18:21-35 (New King James Version)

The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant

21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. 23 Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 27 Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
28 “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ 29 So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ 30 And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. 32 Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. 33 Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”