Grace is undeserved favor. Good things bestowed upon those who don’t deserve it. It’s wonderful to receive, but very difficult to give out. A good sign of whether or not we have received God’s grace in our lives is whether or not we can give it out to others, especially those we don’t like.
How are you doing with that? I’m not doing very well. Grace is easy to give out to those you like, but what about those you don’t like?
Our 15-year-old son, Chandler, has chosen some friends I don’t like. I don’t trust them. They don’t tell me the truth. They placate me, and they don’t respect me. They say one thing to my face and do another thing behind my back. I am far more likely to wish judgment on these kids than grace. Given the fact I don’t like them, they are the truest test of God’s grace in my own life.
Do I lie to God? Do I say one thing to His face and do another thing behind His back? Do I ever placate God — you know, go through the motions of worship without having my heart in it? Have I ever disrespected God by not taking seriously what He has said? And how do I wish to be treated by God over these things? Do I want Him to give me what I deserve, or do I want Him to give me grace? What am I saying? Without the grace of God I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on.
You can’t insist on others getting what they deserve while escaping it yourself. It just doesn’t work that way, and yet we act on this all the time. Everybody has to pay but me. I get in free.
I am so much like the Pharisees, standing at the gate of heaven with the keys to the kingdom, and not letting anyone in I don’t like.
If I can’t give out grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it, that inevitably says that I believe I do, and the minute I believe I deserve God’s grace is the minute I disqualify myself for it. Grace is undeserved favor, and the most undeserving of all is myself.
At my wife’s suggestion the other day, I got my Bible out and taught these kids I didn’t like from the gospel of John. Suddenly I got a whole different perspective on them. They were interested — curious. The most unlikely asked some really good questions. Suddenly I saw them as not that much different from me.
Here’s how to get around the temptation to judge others: stay amazed at your own salvation. Stay amazed that the God of grace loves you, the most undeserving of all. And not only does He love you, He likes you. And if He likes you, He must like the people you don’t like as well.
Jesus gave His disciples, and us, the keys to the kingdom. Those keys are to unlock doors, not lock them.