So here is my #DailyProverb...
It's just something I need today…
Now, “grace” is defined in the dictionary as “a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior.” One of its synonyms is “forgiveness.” We also say that someone is merciful, lenient. We say that someone’s grace is what gave us a break. When someone has pleasing qualities or elegance, we say they are “graceful.”
I mess up lots. I am not always graceful. I don’t always say the right thing or come across the right way. But that is my lack of gracefulness. I need God’s grace constantly to make me right. I need God’s forgiveness and leniency to stay right and to continue a right path. I am selfish. I am privileged. I expect grace. I expect forgiveness from others, from God and I expect them to understand or assume I am coming from a good place and coming from a well-meaning place.
But that’s not fair to the world around me, because I don’t always extend the same grace back… I don’t always assume positive intent. I don’t always give people the benefit of the doubt. I don’t always speak softly and carefully to people.
I am so sorry, y’all. I really am.
Grace, from God, from others… is a gift. It’s unmerited. You can’t earn someone’s grace. Grace is usually extended with no expectation of anything back. That’s likely because the one’s that NEED grace cannot pay anything back.
I like to read. I really enjoy reading religious material. I like the commonly accepted Bible. But I really, thoroughly enjoy less read material. I love the lost gospels. I love anything that’s gnostic. I really like reading less-common material from the same era as the prophets and the early writers. I love the Pentateuch and any historical or contextual texts from that period. They give me a fuller picture of what I perceive as God. They give the stories I love color and texture. They complete the picture for me, they don’t detract from it. My love for that is a gift. It’s a gift from God and it’s a GRACE extended to me. I don’t get bored debating ancient history with my Sister and splitting hairs over what someone might have MEANT to say in a scripture and what history around that writer might have influenced. To me that’s fun.
My lack of grace makes me forget that everyone doesn’t think that’s fun. My lack of grace makes me forget that some people don’t have access to that kind of education. They can’t order random books from Amazon or spend their kids’ food or rent money on it because they woke up interested in that topic for that day.
When I like to get revved up, I like to read the Acts of the Apostles. I read it a lot. That book speaks to me on many levels. It re-affirms my theological beliefs in Oneness. It reminds of the Divinity of Jesus. It makes me feel good about the early Church’s historical practices. I feel like the community spirit, grassroots movement and the way they took care of one another was a good thing. And I couple this reading with common sense, historical reading, and contextual clues for how the Earth was historically and philosophically at that time. All of which are available to me through grace. Today I read Acts 15:7-11. Feel free to read it. You’ll like it. Peter basically tells the elders and the original disciples to quit pestering the Gentiles and quit making them conform to random laws that the Jews themselves had trouble upholding. He preached grace. WE, as Gentiles, are able to be saved by grace alone. We didn’t have to be. God didn’t OWE us anything.
So, Michael?? What are you babbling about today?
Okay, let me wrap this up and bring it together: We are privileged people. We are spoiled. We are not careful with one another. We don’t treat others well. And yet… the ENTIRE time, we expect to be treated well. We expect to be judge on our intentions, even as we judge the actions of others. As people that are Christians, or those that accept the Christ or the divinity of Jesus as the Christ, we readily attribute our salvation to God’s grace, but what does “this grace in which we stand” mean to us now (Rom. 5:2)? How does it work out in everyday life, especially when we’re going through periods of trial or suffering, or failure?
1. God's grace releases supernatural power within us so we can endure life’s hardships with a good attitude. Or at least an attitude that doesn't end in despair or devoid of hope. Grace keeps me hoping. Grace keeps me believing in the good of people, and loving people instead of just checking out in life and giving up on those that disappoint me, or hurt me. Grace may even, in fact, make it possible to "see the light at the end of the tunnel" in what He is doing in us through the adversity.
2. Grace builds our confidence in God. Grace, and proof that God is working in your life, breeds additional belief and increases your faith. Nothing looks hopeless when we focus on God instead of on our problems.
3. Grace gives me the discovery that assurance of God’s sustaining presence as He walks with us every step of the way. It's hard to feel that mind-numbing depression or sense of loneliness, if you are not alone.
4. Because I've experienced God's care for me, I am able to show empathy and love to others facing hard times, and going through experiences that God helped me through.
5. During trials and tribulation, grace works to transform our character so that others can see Jesus reflected in us, a better version of us, and the product that we become (hopefully for the better) having gone through difficulties.
Challenges in life are unavoidable. So we need a daily dose of God’s grace if we are to walk through trials with confidence that there is great reward on the other side; confidence that there is MORE than just this. That there is a Heaven and that our loved ones and friends are there... I've heard it said, and I've quoted this numerous times: "Grace is God giving us what we DON'T deserve. Mercy is God sparing us from what we DO deserve."
Way too often, I've cut God out of the equation in my life. I rely on God to save me, I rely on God to protect me, but I have kept God out of my daily and intimate decision making and relied on my own abilities. If God’s grace was needed to save us, then logic says we would also need it for the rest of our days. Only through a continuous infusion of sustaining power can we live. Grace turns your victim moment into victory. Grace will turn your shame into shouting. Grace will help you realize your dreams when you thought you were destitute.
Happy PRE-Friday, Y'all!
I Love Ya.