Grace is one of those words we hear quite often. But when I sit and think about it, grace is a hard concept to understand. I think there are two different kinds. We have to have grace for ourselves, and create a habit of extending grace to others. Aren’t both easier said than done? Thinking about this balance, I wanted to share some of my thoughts on how we can live intentionally by extending grace.
I’m starting to notice a pattern when it comes to character building for myself and my family. We have to do the very thing with ourselves that we want to output. Does that make sense? Last month we talked about how to live intentionally by loving ourselves before we can effectively love others. Same goes for grace. We have to be graceful with ourselves before we can have the capacity to give others grace.
According to the Dictionary, grace is “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” We are able to have grace for ourselves and others because God first showed us grace. Without the example Jesus showed us, we would not have known this kind of grace could be possible.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
I don’t think there is a magic wand that comes over us and allows us to live like this on a daily basis. Don’t you wish there was? Character isn’t worked on and then “boom” you’ve made it. Character is developed over time as we choose to put off the old, and put on the new in Christ. To learn how live intentionally by extending grace to others, here is a daily step-by-step process we should put into practice:
- Forgive others. This isn’t always easy if the hurt is deep. Forgiveness takes time. Living in Christ’s love, He gives us the capacity to forgive so we can have grace with those who have wronged us. What a miracle!
- Start each morning with Jesus. Now I know some of you like to do devotions or quiet time at different times of the day. But spending the first moments with God often sets our vision, demeanor, and perspective on a path to success all day long. Even on the days where nothing seems to go right!
- Have grace with yourself. This is a tough one. To have grace with ourselves, we have to begin with self-awareness. What are your shortcomings? Where are you struggling? How are your disappointed to the point where you act out? Yes, we act out even as adults. It’s then that we can cut ourselves some slack, ask Jesus for help and guidance, and find ways to give ourselves grace in moments of failure.
- Help others in community. God gives us the capacity to extend grace to others. It isn’t in our own strength, but it is through creating space for Him to come in and change us. So in those moments where we want to act out selfishly, cut someone off, or yell at our kids, we choose differently. We empower others through our moments of grace to seek healing that they need in order to do the same.
It’s important to realize that this is a daily effort. We aren’t perfect. We all fail. But intentionally developing traits to become like Jesus should be our ultimate goal.
Do you have any other ideas on how you can live intentionally by extending grace?