If we who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are going to live out our mandate to extend grace, love, compassion, and forgiveness to a darkened world, we need to call on God’s Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom and the courage to proceed. Jesus was clear in John 15 that we cannot succeed without His help. This is not a Sunday-only mandate but a daily, forever mandate until He returns or we are called home.
“I want to use the authority the Lord has given me to strengthen you, not to tear you down.” — 2 Corinthians 13:10 (NLT)
“No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear.” — Ephesians 4:29 (CSB)
HOW OFTEN HAVE WE HAD an opportunity to spread grace, only to let the opportunity pass, the window close, the moment drift away.
What happens when I fail to honor God by spreading grace? Am I too busy with my own affairs, or perhaps I’m uncertain of how to proceed, or maybe I’m waiting for the other person to go first, or I figure this might not be the right time.
In the abstract, any of those reasons could be considered valid ones. For example:
- I have a schedule to keep;
- Too many people are around;
- I might have missed cues that would have given the moment context; or
- I’m looking for the other person’s receptivity.
DRAWING FROM the abstract to the specific, I often fail to act out of fear. Forget all of the highfalutin excuses, I may have buckled through lack of courage.
I would prefer to do my talking through my fingers on the computer keyboard than vocally in a social setting. I feel more confident with the printed word that I can see and modify than with the spoken word that can’t be seen but is said, sometimes vaporizing into nothing but sometimes hanging heavy over the table like a large cloud.
Jesus told us not to be afraid to testify for our faith. We’re not the first humans who have clammed up when the Lord calls us to speak on His behalf.
Moses, himself, needed plenty of shoring up. “Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” – Exodus 4:12 (NLT)
With that as a model, we — I — can be more confident in speaking grace into a situation with the Lord’s help. What is required in this and every other situation is to be “prayed in.”
The apostles Peter and John asked the Lord to supply them with even more courage after they were jailed overnight after speaking — with great courage — in front of the religious leaders. (see Acts 4:29)
WHAT DOES speaking grace look like?
Depending on the situation, it could be consoling someone who is hurting or struggling with his/her faith. It could be offering a kinder explanation for someone else’s intemperate behavior. It could be offering encouragement or thanking someone or forgiving someone.
Basically, it’s extending ourselves beyond our self-centered wants and needs, considering the other person more important than we are (Philippians 2:3), serving others rather than expecting them to serve us (Matthew 20:28), or just making known that we, as men and women, see the exterior, the veneer, of another person’s life, but Almighty God sees into the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
When the Lord place us in a situation, He justifiably expects us to use those moments to extend His grace to others. We must remember that while we, as fallen creatures, see many people outside of our zone of grace, no one exists beyond God’s zone of grace.
If we use the authority that God has given us to strengthen others, rather than tear them down, we should find more and more people that formerly existed outside our zone of grace falling within its every widening walls.
O Lord, our Heavenly Father. Sometimes, we just feel so overwhelmed with the task of carrying the Gospel to a broken, unbelieving, cynical world; yet, when we place our trust in You, we labor not with our own strength and wisdom but with Yours. We pray for grace and mercy as Your Spirit prepares us for the good work to be done on behalf of the Kingdom, not for our glory, O Lord, but for Yours. In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. AMEN