“Bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive.” Colossians 3:13 Amplified Bible.
Grace has been given diverse definitions by different people. Nevertheless, I think the most befitting way to explain grace is considering how God gave us what we don’t deserve. We deserved the punishment of Hell, but God graciously bestowed on us the gift of His Son. Read more;
A parable is told in the Bible of an unforgiving debtor. This parable is found in Matthew 18:21-35. A certain King had servants who owed him large sums of money and decided to bring his accounts up to date. In the process, a debtor who owed him a significant amount of money could not pay. So the King ordered that the debtor, his family and properties be sold so the debt can be paid. The debtor was in dire need of grace as he didn’t want to go through this horrendous process of paying for his own debts. So he fell on his knees and begged the King, and the King gracefully forgave all that was owed.
It is not unreasonable to think that since his debt was forgiven, he would be more willing to extend the grace that was given to him to others. However, this was not the case. The same debtor that was forgiven demanded instant payment from a fellow servant owing him money. The fellow-servant pleaded with him to give him more time. However, he refused to extend the same grace that was given to him and locked this man up in prison.
While meditating on this story, it occurred to me that they were colleagues. The Bible calls the man owing money, a “fellow servant”. I find that very interesting because as a fellow servant, the unforgiving debtor was aware of the struggles and challenges that came with their position. I am very sure that he had an idea of how difficult keeping a family and staying afloat was. It makes me wonder how many times I have refused to extend grace to people who are just like me. People who face the same challenges that I face. People who desperately need grace just as I do.
Unfortunately for this unforgiving debtor, word went round about his unforgiving act and the King got to hear. The King was furious and locked the man he once forgave in jail. He wasn’t released until every single dime was recovered. This is by the way, but I always wonder how he was able to pay his debts while in prison. I can’t even imagine the torture and frustration.
When we refuse to extend grace to others, we act like the unforgiving debtor. God has forgiven us of all our sins. Not because we deserve it, not because we can earn it. It is because of how loving and merciful God is. It has got everything to do with who God is, and not us.
“There is only one way you’re going to be a gracious person – stay filled up with God. If your tank gets low on God, you’re not going to be gracious at all. You’ve got to stay filled up with God.”
Understanding this fact should enable us to extend grace to others; It should produce an attitude of forgiveness in us. God has forgiven all our sins, and we must not withhold forgiveness from others.
Forgiveness is the central theme of this post because it is through understanding the undeserving forgiveness granted to us, that we can be gracious individuals.
Whenever you feel like you don’t have what it takes to be gracious, look back at how God has forgiven you and ask yourself if it profits you anything to withhold grace from others?
Here are some practical ways to do this:
- Try as much as possible not to keep score of what others have done to you. It profits you nothing!
- When insulted, attacked, or criticised harshly, respond with grace. It may be tempting to give a befitting response; however, it is counterproductive.
- Be quick to apologise even when it can be justified if you don’t. For instance, you give a rude response to someone when insulted, apologising to that same person is a gracious response. They don’t deserve it, granted. However, grace is never deserved.
- Forgive even when you aren’t apologised to. It frees you from bitterness.
- Try as much as you can to put yourself in the shoes of others. Consider the circumstances around their lives, consider their ignorance and understand why they may have acted the way they did. Not everyone may understand life the way you do, and you will have to be able to live with that. Personally, this has helped me extend grace to a lot of people. It becomes more comfortable as your heart is filled with sympathy towards them.
- Lastly, the way of love is never easy. Being gracious is a significant part of love. You can’t love a person without extending grace to that individual. If love must be done the way God has commanded us to, then you must be ready to be full of grace. I urge you to ask God to fill your heart with his love. Ask him to help you to be a gracious person.
As you go into this week, extend grace to that annoying colleague you work with. Be a little bit more tolerant with that person who keeps on doing things to hurt you; It may be your spouse, a friend, a parent or even a sibling. Endeavour to extend grace to the fellow road user who insulted you for no reason. Be a little more patient with the cashier at the grocery store who thinks it is okay to have a nasty attitude. When you are tempted to give a befitting reply, remember how gracious God has been to you and I hope that pushes you to extend grace to them.
When we consider ourselves as fellow debtors to God who have been saved by grace, it should make it easier to be gracious to one another. The journey of life is a long one, and the path is narrow. Nobody is beyond mistakes. Offence will come so long as we are on earth. Since we understand that the journey of life is filled with so many challenges and struggles, we ought to be more empathetic and understanding towards others. We must not become unforgiving debtors in our individual circles.
Thank you for reading as always. May God enable us all to extend grace to others. I pray that we all allow His Spirit to work within us so we can become gracious people. Amen!