Not long ago I made a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up a few items. The day was going well. The weather was nice, I was on a roll knocking off items on my to-do-list, and completing this errand would get me closer to the day’s goal. Once I picked up my last item, as usual, I surveyed the store for the shortest line to stand in. Within seconds I noticed a check stand with just one customer and I could tell she was close to leaving. The day was getting better by the moment! I began loading my items on the conveyor belt, and as I try to make it a habit of doing, I waited until I had the attention of the checker before I smiled and said hello. Much to my surprise not only didn’t she acknowledge my greeting, my entire trip through her line seemed cold and brisk at best – definitely not the type of experience that would catapult my day from “good” to “the-best-day-ever” category.
Days later I reflected on the event and thought about how rude and nasty people can sometimes be, particularly to someone who is a total stranger to them. In all honesty I was feeling a bit self-righteous about the whole thing, that is, until the Holy Spirit gently spoke these words to my heart: ”the grace you have received is the same grace you should give.”
You see there was a time in my life when I was so filled with anger and bitterness that I often found it hard to allow anyone to get close to me, let alone be nice to a total stranger. I can recall many days when I operated from my personal place of anger and bitterness that I left individuals wounded. Inside I was hurting, and as a result I often caused hurt. For years that place was my reality, until I allowed the Holy Spirit free reign in my life to break the chains that had me bound.
As I reflect on those days I realize that God loved me then just as much as He loves me now. His forgiveness was always available each time I sincerely asked, and most importantly, His love and grace were powerfully active (and still are) in my life as I traveled along the road of healing and deliverance. When I look at the above situation through this lens, it seems preposterous that I would think twice about extending the same grace I received to another.
I say this first to myself, then to others: God has extended His grace toward us in so many ways; therefore, let us in turn extend grace to others. The next time you run across an individual who you sense is in a place of bondage that looks all-too-familiar, or you brush up against an individual who you deem “hard-to-love”, by all means extend them grace, forgive them, and pray for them. Remember, freely have we received of God’s grace, so freely let us give.
Care to share your story of how the grace you once received became the same grace you gave?