It is my daughter's middle name.
It is what we call the prayer we say before a meal.
It is getting what we don't deserve.
It is unnatural to me.
When that one person who really deserves to be smacked upside the head is hurting - albeit over messes they have created for his/herself - and my response is compassion, that's unnatural. It's not my own "gracious" nature responding to that person. That is the Spirit of a loving God at work in my heart as I open my mouth to speak.
My mind says, "let 'em have it", and my words come out gentle...my heart sympathizes with the remorse and the guilt and the shame. Why? Because I too have fallen short of perfection. I have failed the people I love [and the people I should have loved better]. I have strayed from the path and walked on the proverbial lawn with that huge, prominently displayed "DO NOT WALK ON THE GRASS" sign right in front of me.
I have sinned.
We all have sinned, and don't measure up to the glory that God displays in His character.
Yet, while we were still living in our sin - disregarding the warnings, ignoring our consciences and choosing to do what made us feel good in the moment over what is right and honorable...even in that moment, whatever that moment is for each of us, He still loved us. He still loves you.
And He paid the ultimate price to prove it. The payment for sin is death. That's what our wrongdoing earns us. That's the punishment. He paid it for us. Jesus died in my place, so that I might live.
He loved me, He released me from the hopeless situation I was in, He forgave me. And He continues to show me kindness and patience and gentleness that I do not deserve. He pours out grace in my life - everyday.
And when that one person who I feel really needs a swift kick in the pants calls, and all I can think of is the character of this God I serve, and the extravagant grace that He has shown me, my words come out stronger than I ever thought they could. Because it is so easy to spew out the treatment that people deserve when they have done wrong, but it takes strength and discernment to set aside the rightful hurt that we need to "let out" and instead say what that person needs to hear.
And once we have recognized the grace in our own lives, who are we - really, who are we, not to also respond in grace with one another? It is humbling to acknowledge our sin and our need for forgiveness. It is also so good to be forgiven and it is so healing to love.
Will that person [the one who needs a boot to the butt] continue to make bad decisions?? Guaranteed. And so will I. Maybe not the same decisions, but we both need grace when we recognize our stupidity and want to change. And neither of us deserve it.
It is a gift.
Find someone to give it to. [My guess is, you already know whose name belongs on the tag.] May you recognize the great love that our God and Savior Jesus Christ has extended to us, and be an ambassador of His love to that "Gah!!-Seriously?-What-could-possibly-make-you-think-that's-a-good-idea!!" someone that doesn't deserve it. Because let's face it, that's you and me too sometimes. And, well, He tells us to.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength...and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus summed up every rule with those few words. Love God. Love people.
Be gracious and watch God be glorified in your life - maybe even in that relationship.
I'd love to hear how He uses grace in your lives to do great things...
And I'm going to watch and pray to see how He is glorified in my own situation.