“Then I will pour out a spirit of grace…”  – Zechariah 12:10

A friend once asked me, “What is grace?”  At the time I couldn’t think of a definition, only examples.  I later heard our former Pastor define grace as: unmerited favor.   In other words, grace is showing undeserved  kindness.   My Bible defines grace as being God’s unmerited favor toward sinful humanity.

I’m blessed, but ashamed, to say that I was a recipient of grace today. 

A friend… sister-friend… someone I admire and respect …someone’s whose friendship I treasure…recently asked me to do an important favor for her.  I immediately responded that I would, but then failed to do so.   Unexpected plans distracted me from my commitment and I forgot.  Two days ago I realized what I’d done (or hadn’t done, in this case).  I felt terrible and ashamed.  I knew I needed to apologize and admit my failure to help her, but I procrastinated.  While praying this morning, God let me know that I needed to stop procrastinating and contact her today. 

As soon as my morning tasks were done I sat down to send my friend an email of apology.  No, I wasn’t copping out by sending her an email instead of speaking to her in person.  Email is how we communicate.  However, as I started my message to her, I received an email from her!  I  expected it to be a message calling me out on how I’d let her down (and that would have been deserved), but instead it was an all-out gift of grace.  She didn’t even mention the previous favor she’d asked me to do.  Instead, she was giving me another chance to do a favor for her. I thought surely she’d label me as unreliable and remove me from her “go to” list.  In addition, she also informed me of a surprise favor she was going to do for me!  Now if that’s not all-out grace, I don’t know what is!  All that grace and she hadn’t even gotten an apology from me yet! 

Grace:  unmerited favor, undeserved kindness

By definition, Jesus showed the greatest act of grace when he allowed all of our sins to be upon Him as He died on the cross.  It’s easy to wonder why He would do that because even though He had many followers and people who loved Him, many others hated Him.  Before being crucified He was beaten, mocked, disgraced, and despised.  Yet He took the sins of those people, too.  Yes.  Jesus was a true man of grace.  He was a man who paid the ultimate sacrifice for sins with His own life so that forever more, all who would claim Him as their Lord and Savior could be forgiven of their sins and offered eternal life with Him in heaven.  In fact, just as my friend ended her message by showing an extra act of grace, Jesus offered one more act of grace while hanging on the cross by promising salvation to the criminal hanging next to him who acknowledged Jesus as LORD and asked to be saved.   

GRACE:  God’s free and unmerited favor toward sinful humanity.

God probably won’t ask for such an extreme act of grace from us, but there are many ways we can show grace to others.  Here are a few suggestions:

Don’t say, “I told you so.”  * Avoid taking part in gossip.  Say something positive to end the gossip, instead! * Don’t rub it in when someone else messes up.  Be compassionate to them.  * Turn the other cheek when someone wrongs you.  * Allow the other person to ‘have the last word’ in an argument.  * Avoid an argument altogether by only speaking words of love and grace.  * Let it go when someone cuts you off in traffic. *  Forgive others…even without being asked!  * Don’t repay evil with evil.  *  Trust God to bring justice to others.  * Pray for those who wrong you, hurt you, cheat you, lie to you,…   * Be the first to extend kindness after a bad experience with someone else.  * Let bygones be bygones.   * Love everyone just has God has loved you. 

As stated above, I was ashamed to be in a position where my friend needed to show me grace.  However, I felt extremely blessed when she did.  A little grace goes a long way!   Now I’ll have to remember her loving act of grace and pass it on to others, too! 

How about you?  What acts of grace can you offer today? 

God bless you.  May grace and peace be with you.  Amen.