By Jeanne Takenaka
I’ve been thinking about grace and what it means to live with grace. When people say, “I gave grace in that situation.” Or, “You are a gracious person.” What does it really mean, this word—grace?
I’m trying to put into words how we live out grace as people who believe in Jesus. Grace and favor share similar meanings. When we “give grace and mercy,” we are offering favor. Sometimes the decision to offer favor comes after an offense inflicted.
One of the most memorable times when a person extended grace to me happened a number of years ago.
Every now and then, my mouth gets me in trouble. I hadn’t meant for it to happen, but words about a friend slipped from my mouth. Words that sounded suspiciously like gossip. It was just between me and one other friend. I knew I could stop and keep it between us. After all, the words shared “in confidence” weren’t that bad.
But God . . .
He called me to a higher standard. Days passed after the incidences. Yes, that is plural. Oh, how I hate that my mouth can speak unkind things with so little reservation. The more I tried to bury my little word-fest in the back of my mind, the more God’s conviction pricked my heart.
Finally I could take it no longer. Condemnation burned hot within me, bowing my head in embarrassment every time I saw this friend.
The flaring heat in my heart prompted me to ask her if we could talk.
I could barely look her in the eye as I confessed my sin and asked her forgiveness. She could have easily said she never wanted to see me again. Having the Spirit looking over your shoulder as you put into words the secrets in your heart is ever so mortifying.
I couldn’t sugar-coat it because He was there.
I waited as she gazed at me. My eyes flicked toward hers, and then away. Condemnation dug in then. Knowing I totally deserved anything she dealt my way.
“I forgive you.”
Had I heard her correctly? For a moment, I felt even worse. But I didn’t deserve her forgiveness. The hurt my confession must have evoked . . .
She forgave it?
Better than that, this friend did not forgive and then distance herself. Rather, she continued to extend her friendship to me, the undeserving. She trusted me with her secrets as if our friendship had never had this hiccup.
This is grace. Loving after being hurt. My friend showed me favor I soooo did not deserve.
When I think about Jesus and the grace He offers us, I’m humbled to the core of who I am. His taking my place on the cross, dying so I could live and come into a relationship with Him amazes me. And He didn’t do it out of a sense of obligation, or pride, or with condescension toward humankind.
He chose this.
Out of pure, passionate love. He wants us to know His love, His favor . . . His grace. And to live it out. Loving others the way He’s loved us.
I’ve come a long way in guarding my tongue since that event. But I’ll never forget the forgiveness and the grace my friend gifted me with when she had every right to turn her back on me, or worse gossip about me in return.
What about you? How do you define “living out grace?” When have you offered someone grace? What did it look like when someone offered you grace?