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Grace Expected

Have you asked others for grace? Or like me, have you received an email that said, “thanks for your grace” as a not-so-subtle way of hoping for a specific response on my part. Or maybe you have told others we should give each other more grace. What does grace even mean?

Grace is beautiful, rich and powerful. We celebrate it but also misunderstand it, especially when it comes to giving grace to others. Instead of being swept up with the undeserved nature of grace we so often cheapen it. What we actually mean when we say we should give grace is that we give or expect free passes.

This “free pass grace” is used in small ways all the time and then when a bigger mistake or offense happens this grace card has been swiped so many times, we pull it out from habit again hoping for a way out because, “grace”.

However, grace isn’t a free pass that allows us to fumble around under the guise of Christ. Grace, the unmerited favor of God poured out on us by our faith in Christ, is a life transforming gift that, when received, teaches us how to live (Ephesians 2:8 and context).

Our culture scoffs at the idea of calling someone to account or of love being anything other than a no-matter-what acceptance. Affirmation is king. This cultural norm is infiltrating our understanding of grace and is thereby stealing its profound meaning and explosive power.

Our unwillingness to receive accountability with directness in our relationships and speech as a means of grace is our cultures influence and not Jesus speaking. Look at Jesus’s language in Matthew 23:27-28 as one example. His “grace” and “kindness” to the pharisees was to point out their sin that would move them to confession and repentance (Romans 2:4).

Grace is not a free pass.

A free pass says, “I see my sin against you, friend, and I want you to ignore it so I am not embarrassed by a confrontation.” We often call this love, but isn’t it really love of self? Love of comfort? When you ask for or give a free pass, you’re choosing to do what’s easier instead of enduring the temporary, self-inflicted pain of bringing up a difficult subject with a friend. Many Christians choose “free pass grace” to avoid actually living with the healing power of true grace.

We should measure our actions of grace with how God extends grace to us.

In His grace toward us, God says, “I see your sin. I name your sin specifically to you through conviction of the Holy Spirit.” We are then pointed to the cross to deal with it and don’t have to cover it or ignore it or try to deal with it on your own. It is because of Christ, we have an avenue to be free of sin. Confession and repentance bring sin to light for forgiveness and freedom.

Grace looks directly at sin and points it out specifically because of love. No free pass, no watered down “grace pass”, simple truth telling with real words that have impact.

Stop asking for grace and start asking for forgiveness.

The next time you or I are tempted to ask for grace, pause. Think, what am I trying to get away with that I instead need to be asking for forgiveness from? How is my pride rising up in subtle ways right now? Possibly, how is my mind trying to justify my way out of seeing the problem centrally located in my heart? When we ask for grace from one another, we mock God. We say, “I know how to fix this situation and it is not believing the gospel, it is believing I can fix it without the true power of God’s grace.” We are looking for a short cut.

Our responsibility is to ask for forgiveness. The good news of the gospel is that God always responds with grace. Nowhere are we told to expect others to extend us grace.

John wrote it this way in one of his letters to the church:

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. 1 John 1:8-10

I am not interested in calling God a liar. I do not intend to hand out “get out of sin for free” passes by misusing grace. I believe a picture of a Spirit-led grace-giver that builds on what we have looked at already embraces Ephesians 4:32. Forgive one another as we have experienced forgiveness in Christ. No command for grace. The clear application here is that confession would be part of our lives because that is what leads to forgiveness.

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Stop asking for grace and start asking for forgiveness.

Imagine eliminating from your vocabulary any expectation of others to give you grace. Imagine instead quickly humbling responding when told you hurt others or recognizing how you cause pain or how your mistakes hurt or inconvenience others. Then, imagine a world where we avoid justifying ourselves and instead, we ask for forgiveness. Then wait. A gracious response is the others option. It is undeserved. If we are met harshly, that is fair! We failed, we messed up and we may have even sinned. We deserve and will face consequences. However, if we are forgiven and met with grace – how beautifully unexpected!

Q. Think of an example of a time you asked for grace or someone else did of you. How did you hope for or feel?

Q. Who do you need to ask forgiveness of instead of expecting grace? Why is it hard to ask for forgiveness?


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