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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Extend Grace to Others

Bearing graciously with one another, and willingly forgiving each other if one has a cause for complaint against another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so should you forgive. Colossians 3:13 AMP

I saw a meme on Facebook that said, “Gratitude is our ability to see the grace of God, morning by morning, no matter what else greets us in the course of the day.” One October many years ago, the grace and gratitude connection became very real to me.

The crisp fall evening was perfect for a square dance in the country—starry sky, lively music, hay bales, yummy food, sweet fellowship. A night to remember in so many ways. My husband, our six-year-old daughter, my mom, and I had a delightful time with church members and friends. Shortly before the party ended, we said our goodbyes so we could get Mom home.

A few minutes later, our full-size conversion van lay upside down in a ditch from the impact of a speeding car. A drunk driver. We had planned to deliver Mom to her Pleasant Valley address. Instead, God welcomed her in heaven, and doctors didn’t expect me to live.

In an instant, our lives changed dramatically. I lost my best friend, our kids no longer had their grandma, we had to rely on others’ help at home and with our businesses, and I entered into a several-month period of recovery. Yet in the midst of the shock, healing, and grieving, my husband and I were able to forgive the man whose choices caused this unnecessary tragedy.

As you may know, the ability to forgive doesn’t come naturally. When someone has wronged us, we want to retaliate, or hate the person forever. Many times I’ve thought about how we were able to release those feelings, especially after having to endure the man’s false accusations and a horrible court trial experience. I can honestly say it was only because of God’s grace. During all this, God gave me a glimpse of how much he had forgiven me. To not offer the same gift to another would be like saying I was better than God.

It may seem strange, but extending grace to those who’ve wronged us is an act of gratitude for the grace we’ve received from God. We are, in a way, saying, “Thank you, God, for your kindness and mercy. Thank you for your unmerited favor. Thank you for your unconditional love.”

And whether the person acknowledges our gift—or even has awareness of it—we do it more for ourselves. It’s a gesture that brings freedom. By letting go and pardoning others’ actions, we’re able to move forward with our lives. We’re not stuck in the rut of bitterness, resentment, anger, and all those negative feelings that imprison us.

Over the years I’ve learned that grace can’t be explained; it can only be experienced. And when we realize the amazing gift we’ve received, we can’t help but be grateful. God sees our hearts and smiles when we’re able to extend the same grace to others.

No, it doesn’t make sense, but it feels so good. And that makes me grateful all the more.

God, your grace is amazing. I don’t deserve it, yet you so readily pour it out on me. Thank you for your gift of forgiveness, and thank you for making it possible for me to extend forgiveness to others. It’s not always easy to do, Lord, but it brings such a feeling of relief and reminds me of the mercy and grace I’ve received from you. Regardless of what happens during my days, would you help me to always see your grace? I may not be able to explain what it is, but I sure know it when I experience it. And I’m eternally grateful.

Power Statement: Because God has extended his grace to me, I will gratefully extend grace to others.

Reflection and Response: Have you ever thought about the grace and gratitude connection? How does receiving grace make you grateful? Is there anyone you need to forgive right now? Ask God for the grace to make that possible.

This devotion is an excerpt from The Power to Be, © 2018 Twila Belk. Used by permission of BroadStreet Publishing.

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