I know that when I became a Christian, I was not completely aware of how much Grace was involved in that incredible moment. I knew that I had sinned, even at a tender young age, and I fully believed that Jesus could save me. But Grace– the undeserved free choice of God to not only love me, but sacrifice His precious Son to draw me back to Himself – that took time to sink in.
And it has taken many years since – quite a few decades in fact – for me to catch a glimpse of that Grace still at work in my life. The amount of Grace that God poured into my life is beyond human measure, but that does not mean that I am not required to extend Grace to others; that my Grace to others also comes as a choice. I can give it, or withhold it. It would be easy to dispense Grace like some candy machine, feeling self-important and saccharine-holy. But Grace is always a choice, and not always an easy one. If it was easy, you wouldn’t need to exercise Grace. The purer the Grace, the harder it is to give it. The more you long to withhold it, the more you have to give it. It means giving favour where hardness is in the atmosphere.
It means never taking offence, even though there has been hurt. It means saying the Lord’s Prayer, especially the parts about forgiveness, and meaning it, even though it feels like nails on the chalkboard of your soul as you speak about asking for God’s forgiveness “as we forgive those who sin against us”. That simply states that the measure of our forgiveness has to be balanced by how much we hold grudges against anyone else. The reality is that if we ask for forgiveness, genuinely, then God will give it. But Christ cautioned us to examine our forgiveness of others at the same time that we ask it for ourselves.
Grace is not something we buy, or that God sells. It is a gift. A choice. He did not have to choose to pour out His Grace, but He did anyway, and will never revoke that choice. Never minimise your option to choose to give Grace, but when you have done so, you should not revoke it, for neither did He. Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:8)