Have you ever had one of those days (or years) : ) when you feel like everyone is against you? Maybe you are mad at someone or feel hurt over something someone else said or did. Maybe someone said or did something and you start dwelling on all of the other negative things they have done to you over the years. Maybe you even want to punch somebody’s lights out! (I personally have never felt this way but I have heard of others who have expressed this desire) : ) When we find ourselves in a place where we are extremely sensitive to the words and actions of others towards us then our Grace Acceptor may need a little cleaning out.
Dealing with difficult people is something that we all have to do on a regular basis. You may get a reprieve once in a while but sooner or later… it will happen again. It’s called “living in the world.” : ) None of us are immune to the infractions that others place on us and some of us have the unfortunate circumstance of being imposed upon in a negative way almost constantly. Family, friends, co-workers, and even brothers and sisters in Christ can have a negative influence on us, and sometimes they can be downright mean!
As Christians, we know that we are to forgive others their offences towards us (and ourselves, by the way) and we know that God gives us the power to do so. But how does that work? What does it look like? If I say I’ve forgiven someone but I still keep thinking about the offence and how mad or hurt I was, have I really forgiven them? If I choose to forgive but the feeling never catches up, is it really forgiveness?
We have all struggled with these questions at one time or another and we probably will again. Forgiveness, depending on the offence, can take us down many different roads. Whether our paths are short and straight or long and winding, they all have one thing in common: they start with Grace.
Understanding the depths of Grace is like jumping off a cliff into the “Valley of Grace” and never hitting the bottom… ever! We cannot wrap our earthly minds around the enormity of what God did and does for us through his Grace, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try! We need to go beyond the fact that Grace is what saved us and embrace the unbelievable things that Grace does for us everyday! If we look at our lives and see only all of our dirt, all of our failures, all of our regrets and all of our ugliness, then we haven’t plunged the depths of God’s love for us.
When we sin, we usually feel bad about it and confess it at some point. How does that play our in your mind? Do you approach God with fear and trembling? Do you cringe before him? Do you stay away because you think he won’t forgive you… again? Here are some things you’ve probably heard in the past from a parent or other authority figure but I guarantee you, God will never say them:
1. “OK, but don’t let it happen again!”
2. “I think you need to go to time-out!”
3. “That does it! You are off the team!”
So what does God say when we come to him with our sin? If we look to his Word for the answer then we know that he says, “Don’t worry, you’re forgiven, I’ve forgotten, let me give you a hug!” Grace, Grace, Grace. Now if we really believe that, I mean really embrace it and wallow in it, then it will change how we view others and how we process their behavior towards us. When we accept God’s Grace for ourselves then it fills us up and overflows to those around us. Forgiveness is no longer a fist clenching, teeth gritting, mind bending chore; it just naturally happens. God’s Grace flows out of us and covers the pain caused by others. We are so enthralled by God’s love for us that those offences that used to hit us like darts (or bombs) : ) now simply fall at our feet in a pathetic little heap. I’m not saying that you will never again feel hurt or anger towards someone, but understanding Grace and learning to walk in it greatly lessens the impact that sin has on us. Grace decreases our desire for vengeance to be poured out on our enemies and increases our desire to “Grace” them, just as Jesus has “Graced” us.
In other words, we don’t have to allow the offences of others to dictate how we feel or what kind of day we are going to have. Here’s a rabbit trail you can go down on your own if you so desire: unforgiveness (ie; anger, critical spirit, or bitterness towards others or yourself) equals “negative energy” which in turn equals a huge compromise on our health.
I know what you’re thinking, “I can’t do that, I’ve tried but I can’t.” Well, you’re right. That’s the beauty of it. Jesus is the only one who can and he wants to do it for you. The Jesus who bore the insults, criticisms, verbal and physical abuse, betrayal, and hatred of scores of people and then asked his Father to forgive them with his dying breath is the same Jesus that lives in us. All he needs is unclogged pipes! If we receive it for ourselves God gives it to others through us.
Grace is not only the shield we can use to deflect the sin that is thrown (or fired) : ) at us, but it is also the ammunition we can use to fight back and defeat the work of the enemy in our lives. So let’s keep our Grace Acceptors cleaned out so that we will always have more than enough to share with others.