“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” – 1 Peter 4:10 (ESV)
When we hit the rewind button on our day, we typically find times in the last 24 hours where we were irritated, critical, or upset with others because of their attitudes, actions, or words. Most likely, there will be one or maybe multiple occurrences when we simply won’t let the person(s) off the hook when they make a mistake. And there will be other times when we were willing to extend forgiveness and grace that we experienced in Christ Jesus to others.
Culture tells us to put our needs before the needs of others, and to treat others as they treat us. The Bible takes the opposite position. Our job as followers of Jesus is to love and extend grace. “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” (Colossians 3:13)
Responding to others with grace means acknowledging that everyone has areas of weakness and that we all are works in progress. It means loving people in spite of any warts they may have. 1 Peter 3:8 says, “Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.”
Jesus helped us understand this concept when He told His followers to “… love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that…?” (Matthew 5:44-46)
It easy to take grace for granted; at least in the sense that it can be viewed as one-way, God to me. We need to remember that we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. We expect others to extend grace to us in certain situations. There are times when we say things in a way that we didn’t intend to, or we do things without thinking about the consequences. When someone extends grace to us in those moments, we are grateful and relieved. We should strive to be the kind of person who loves others as ourselves and extends grace willingly. Joseph extended grace to his brothers, even though they did not deserve it. That’s why it’s called grace; it’s unearned, unmerited, undeserved.
The story of Joseph should inspire us to extend grace to others. God knows that it’s not natural for us to show grace to people (especially difficult people), but when we do so, we are imitating Him.
- What does it mean to show grace to others?
- Why is it important to show grace to others?