by Gail Rodgers
The young woman felt disapproving eyes follow her as she sat down near the back of the church. She knew she had made choices that took her into a life she did not want. She knew she needed to make changes. She had hoped to find some encouragement here.
Although God is waiting for the hurting soul with open arms and a heart full of grace, many of the Christians in the church are not. Many find it hard to extend grace because they did not receive grace when they needed it. Many are hurt and some have quit going to church at all.
Yet God calls us to extend His grace; to extend favor and love freely. This is the trademark of a true follower of God. He is calling us to “see to it that no one misses the grace of God…” Hebrews 12:15 We are to stand out for our hearts full of grace and love.
God is calling Christians to make a choice. We can choose to be critical or judgmental toward each other. Or we can choose to be God’s vessel through which His loving grace is poured out. The choice we make will impact our own life as well as the lives of others. Choose carefully…He tells us how.
God’s Guidelines for Giving Grace
Start with Prayer: When you see an area of weakness in another person… pray about it and ask God to pour His strength into that weakness. Talk first to God and not to your neighbor.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 When we discover weaknesses in one another… and we all will… our first job will be to carry it to God in prayer.
“Carry each other’s burdens (or weaknesses), and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galations 6:2
Be Accountable for what is going on inside you. Keep a check on your own spirit. As you pray for another’s weakness be careful not to begin seeing yourself as superior. Don’t play the comparison game. God tells us to test our own actions to be sure we are not deceiving ourselves in any area. Holiness is really truth in the inner part. Not being truthful within ourselves leaves us feeling “holier than thou”. In humility, guard your own heart.
“If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else.” Galatians 6:2
Take Responsibility for your own weaknesses and faults. Never excuse your own weaknesses by saying, “that’s just the way I am, I can’t help it”! Be honest with yourself and invite God into your weak areas. Do what is necessary to take the responsibility that is yours.
“...each one should carry his own load.” Galatians 6:4b
Encourage Each Other with Scripture. Build each other up in God’s ways.
“Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.” Galatians 6:6
Sharing what we learn from God’s Word will help us keep our focus on God’s way of doing things. Praying together is also one of the best ways to knit hearts in unity. Talk through issues with love and an attitude of building up. Learn to treat others the way you want to be treated. Look for the good in others and praise them for it!” Be open if someone comes to you about your weakness.
Make a Choice: Regularly make the choice to do things God’s way. It isn’t always comfortable to deal with another’s weaknesses in God’s way…our own emotions often get in the way. Neither is it always comfortable to look our own weaknesses square on and invite God to change us and be our strength.
God invites us to make each relational decision in accordance with His Spirit. He promises a harvest in the proper time. God’s ways bring refreshment
“...The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9
Be a Blessing: Bless one another as often as you can. Affirm one other, do good to each other, speak well of one another. Look for opportunities to touch each other’s lives in a positive way.
“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:10
Know the Source: Giving grace is a tall order, especially when we don’t always receive it from others ourselves. But God tells us exactly where to find the grace in order to give it away.
“God is able to make all grace abound to you so in all things, at all times, you will have all that you need and you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
Our lives, our homes, our workplaces and even our churches will be re-charged by a fresh outpouring of His grace as we choose to take to heart His call to ...
“...love each other deeply…serve others…faithfully administering (pouring out) God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:7-11