I’ve been hearing a lot about grace lately. When the same word or idea presents itself over and over again, eventually my ears perk up and I realize that there’s something for me here. At first, it was the fact that I have RECEIVED grace, and Jesus died so that I could have it. He bore the weight of all of my sin, forever, so that I could be blameless before God. This is a big deal. Then it became the idea that if I have received grace, I should also GIVE grace.
Jesus told this story of a guy who owed a ton of money (like a TRILLION dollars worth of money), and after begging and pleading, the king actually forgave him of it. He gave him GRACE. Then this dude went out to people who owed him money, (like a couple hundred dollars) and even after they begged and pleaded, he threw them in jail until they could pay. Once the king heard about this, he was furious! Grace etiquette had been broken. This guy received grace at a high cost, but when given the opportunity to extend grace, he chose not to.
I had to ask myself, what do I chose? I thought, surely I choose to extend grace.
Jesus was waiting for me to ask this question.
Not an hour later, I got a phone call from someone I haven’t talked to in over 9 years. For good reason.
Long story short, when I was 18 my great-grandmother passed away, leaving me a trust fund my grandparents had set up for me when I was born, and everything in their home. Including furniture, pictures, clothing, jewelry. All of this was stolen from me, by family.
I ended up with a couple pieces of moldy furniture, and some costume jewelry that they claimed were wedding rings. My aunt was wearing my great-grandmothers wedding ring as she asked me to sign that I had received everything in full.
I was young, and naive. Thinking that people who once loved me, would always have my back. I was wrong. And I got screwed. My grandparents had a lot to give, and a lot to be taken…and it was all taken.
I didn’t care about the money, except that Babu and Papap wanted me to have it. They thought my education would be paid for, that they were setting me up for my future. I wanted to wear my grandmothers wedding ring on my wedding day. I wanted to sit in the chair my great-grandfather sat in EVERY day and smoked his cigars in. I wanted to hold pieces of them that reminded me of my time with them. The glass grapes my sister and I always got yelled at for playing with. The mink scarf Babu would delicately place on my shoulders as I twirled in her mirror. Memories of summers spent with grandparents. History. Family.
This phone call, was from one of these family members. All of the sudden, I realized I had NOT forgiven them. Even though it didn’t harbor on my mind, one second of their name appearing on my phone flooded my heart with anger and bitterness.
I was reminded quickly that those who receive grace, extend grace. And all of the sudden that question I had asked earlier was given a different answer. When given the opportunity, do I withhold or extend grace?
I didn’t like my answer.
Jesus said that we should forgive over and over and over and over. Seventy times seven. But can I forgive this transgression, just once? Forgiveness is not free. If someone steals from me, and I forgive them, I am saying, “It’s okay. I’ll pay the cost.”
What a difficult thing to say. But Jesus did. For all of us. The cost of offering us grace was death. I mean, someone FREAKING DIED FOR ME, and I can’t let a few thousand dollars go.
So I’ll think I’ll be focusing on grace. Memorizing it. Swirling it around in my mind, and absorbing what it means. Maybe if I soak it in, I can pour it out. Not forgiving, not offering grace, those are chains I put on myself. I want to be free.
Jesus. Thank you for offering me grace. For forgiving me the millions of times I’ve needed it. For dying for me so that I can come to you clean and new. Help me to see what that looks like, and help me to offer that same grace to the people around me. I want to rejoice in opportunities to extend grace, because it’s opportunities to be like You. Bless my family. Heal my family. Soften their hearts to receive love. Never stop chasing after them, and never let them forget that they too are forgiven. No matter what.