Grace upon Grace
I want to take a second to talk about grace. This is something that has been on my heart lately in a lot of ways. First, I want to talk about the irrefutable truth that we have all been given an outpouring of grace directly from God. We don't deserve the grace we have been given and nothing we do can earn it. God didn't just give us grace, He gave us grace TENFOLD. He gave us grace upon grace. John 1:16 says "For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace". He has given us grace time after time and he always will. His grace and His willingness to give it is never ending and that is because of who He is. He is God. He is good, he is patient, and he is so so merciful. Not only do we have the Bible telling us these characteristics of Him, God Himself told His people who He is in the old testament. In Exodus 34:6 the Lord proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin". We have the actual spoken words of God telling us exactly who he is. We don't have to infer that he loves us through the text of the Bible or wonder if he could truly be merciful and have grace for us- he tells us! He says I love you, I am slow to anger with you, I give you mercy and I give you grace; I forgive your iniquities, because that is who I Am. Now we know who he is and we know that we are supposed to be more like him. We know that if God has that patience and grace for us, we in turn should be like him and have that same patience and grace for our brothers and sisters. It is just a fact. God is good and he is gracious. We should be too.
This month, I launched the Grace Collection on SHE WHO IS. I'm not writing this blog post as a response to the new collection; rather, the new collection is in response to the things that had been going on in my life. When my heart is feeling heavy, I look to scripture and talk to God. Doing this always makes me feel inspired and inspiration comes out in the form of designing for me.
Let me explain a little more about why this has been so heavy on my heart recently. I'm a part of several larger Christian communities online and grew up around a lot of people who would associate themselves with the Christian faith. So often I have witnessed Christians encouraging others to NOT forgive and to hold on to bitterness, and it makes me so sad. There are so many times in my personal life that I see Christians openly decline to forgive, give grace, and give mercy due to pride. I'm going to step on a lot of toes telling you all that that is pride, but it is. We sometimes feel justified in holding a grudge and not granting forgiveness because of the bad things that have happened to us. So we hold on to that anger and that bitterness because we got hurt and it hurts our egos to get over whatever happened. But guess what? That person that hurt you? God has given them grace. And he has extended the same grace to you. We are only hurting ourselves by holding on to wrath, judgement, and resentment. Not only do we sometimes refuse to forgive one another, but often we ostracize other Christians for giving forgiveness where we don't think it is warranted. That is so crazy to me- we literally judge other Christians for being big enough to give grace when we are not. Instead of criticizing others for letting go of past wrongs, we should pray that we too can give grace endlessly. This is just a fact: refusing to give grace will only hurt us in the long wrong. Here's the crazier part- grace is not about us. It's about Christ. Period.
Sure, I can tell you that you'll live better extending and freely giving grace to others but that's not the point. We are here to live life for Christ and not for ourselves. When we deny forgiveness to one another, we are making the concept of grace about us and our pride. Grace and forgiveness are not about us, they are about Christ.
So we know we should have grace for one another but what exactly does that even mean and what does it look like? Follow along with me here for a minute as I quote a few verses. Colossians 4:6 says, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person". Mark 9:50 states "Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another." The last verse I want to look at here is Matthew 5:13. It says "You are the salt of the earth." The first verse I mentioned here in Colossians tells us to let our speech be "gracious, seasoned with salt". If being seasoned with salt makes our speech more gracious, then let's replace the idea of salt with grace in some of the above passages. The verse in Mark would instead read, "have grace in yourselves, and be at peace with one another". The verse in Matthew would read that we are the grace of the earth. There are so many places in the Bible where we are called salt and instructed to be salty and by doing this we would be gracious and at peace. Christ is full of abounding grace and we came from him. We are a product of his grace, the salt of the earth; we were created to preserve, flavor, and bring seasoning to the world. That means to speak and act with grace. As Christians, we should be leaders of peace. We should demonstrate forgiveness, grace, and mercy in everything we do. If we stop speaking, acting, and showing love and grace to one another then we have lost sight of our purpose. We are on the earth because God created us to glorify Him. As hard as it is to not lose sight of this, it is so important that we aim to be more Christ-like everyday- this means giving grace even when it is hard. And I promise, letting go of past hurts and forgiving your trespassers will not only bring you and others closer to God, but it will relieve you of so much stress, anger, and bitterness. Good luck on your walk, and try to remember to give grace upon grace!