Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Where Grace Is

How many of us can really say we have mastered the art of administering grace?  I recently read a devotional that reached into the depths of my heart and gave me a sneak peek into some possible steps to help us understand how to extend grace. When do we typically have to do this?  It comes on the heels of being hurt.  Immediately, when I read my last sentence, my mind goes to the cross.  Who was hurt far greater than any of us could ever imagine?  You guessed it, the birthday  boy, Jesus.  He was betrayed, beaten, forsaken and put to death.  The devotional I read, said "loving those who betray you is graduate-level Christianity."  It forces us to take a deep look at ourselves and push aside any rights we might have.  This is what Christ did on the cross.  He didn't have to face all the things He did.  He had the power to end it all with one word if He chose to.  I'm going to go ahead and humble myself and say if I had the power to end a betrayal, beating, being forsaken or my death I would probably say the word.  He didn't.  Why didn't he?  He trusted the Father. He obeyed the Father. He lived His life for the Father.  Wow!

We also see other examples in the Bible of this.  David was betrayed by Saul yet showed him grace.  Joseph was betrayed by ALL his brothers, yet showed them grace.  There is a theme here and it is a perfect picture of grace.  How can we do this?  First, we have to not only embrace the grace from the cross that Jesus extends to us, we must extend that grace to others.  What does that look like?  It is one thing to celebrate Jesus' birth because He died for us so WE can be forgiven our sins.  It is yet another thing to celebrate Jesus' birth so we can forgive OTHERS of their sins.  Loving those who have hurt us can only happen when we allow Jesus' cross to become our cross.  We too have to "die to self" like Jesus did in order to allow the love of Christ to be shown through our own lives.  This is identifying with the cross of Christ.  We must trust the Father, obey the Father and live our lives for the Father.  All this sounds so wonderful and "religious" doesn't it?  It is easier to write it, as opposed to actually doing it.  Believe me, I know how difficult it is.  Our natural response and everything inside of us goes against the Godly response.  We typically want to protect ourselves, retaliate and hold firmly to unforgiveness, bitterness & hurt.  Let me give you a big warning, these natural responses I just mentioned are the most powerful weapons Satan will use against us.  To overcome these, requires much grace from God.  As we work to "die to self" and plead with God to build His nature in our hearts, we can learn to fight the attacks from Satan and hopefully respond with His righteousness.  This holiday season, even though we celebrate the birth of Christ remember to keep your eyes on the cross.