Grace -- Do we give it unconditionally?
When we talk about Grace people have many ideas of what it is or is not. Grace is showing favor or kindness without cause, or to someone who is un-deserving. Have you ever received something that you didn't deserve, maybe a complement, a gift, or even forgiveness? When someone extends grace to us it is so overwhelming because we think of all the reasons we don't deserve it.
Well God certainly always has a lesson for us in life if we are willing to learn. Recently there has been a homeless man living in the woods behind our church. At Christmas our pastor gave the children a gift card and told them to give it to someone in need. My kids chose to give to the homeless man they noticed in the woods. When we left there that day something just drew me back. I bought some food, cooking utensils, and a couple Christmas presents for him. When it was raining we took a tarp to try and protect his things. When the temperature was going to get so cold I took him some food, and left a note that the church would put him in a hotel for three nights. This whole time I had an image of the man I was helping in my head. So this week our secretary calls and asks me to come up front. She says to me, "have you been helping (will call him) Kenny?" I replied no. (Kenny is a man we have helped repeatedly with money, clothes, food, a job- with no end result). She said, “well he is at the door for you.” So in order to try to shorten the story the man I thought I was helping all along was really Kenny. He holds up the note that states we will give him a hotel room. My jaw hit the ground, and I was speechless. Larry still approved the room since it was going to be so cold, but as I walked back to my office I was thinking really! As I sat at my desk I said, “God I cannot believe you drew me to spend all this money on Kenny of all people. You know he is never going to change. I could have helped someone where it would have made a difference.” My spirit was prompted by this question. So if you knew it was Kenny you would have never helped? I could try to sound spiritual here, but the answer was no. I had written Kenny off because in my mind he wasn’t willing to change, so why continue helping him. The conviction was “how ironic because I have paid the highest for you by allowing my son to die on a rugged across, and sometimes you are not willing to change either!”
Ephesians 2:8 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
God was reminding me that we do not get to pick and choose who, or when we show grace. We were given grace when we did not deserve it. It is his commandment to show it to others whether they deserve it or not.
Mathew 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me”
We have just entered a new year. I wonder if there is anything that needs your grace from 2014, in order to allow 2015 to be all it can be. Is there anybody you have withheld grace, mercy, or forgiveness from because you felt they were hopeless, or un-deserving? Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We cannot change things that have already happened, but we can change our perspective, and our response.