I’m not sure who said that quote shown above, but I came across it when I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day. My husband and I have been talking a lot about grace, and the topic also came up in our pastor’s sermon on Sunday.
It’s been on my heart lately how people can be so blatantly unkind to each other, especially Christians. Maybe it’s because I’m still navigating the waters of marriage and learning what it means to really love someone unconditionally through actions. I’ve heard stories lately about some believers who’ve held the same grudge for years, who give each other the cold shoulder, who gossip and who use sarcasm to hurt others for whatever reason.
We’re not perfect. We all do things to offend people, and sometimes we’re on the receiving end. Brokenness is part of relationships and part of community. If we weeded out friends by who hasn’t sinned against us at one time or another, we’d be all alone. Miserably alone.
Whatever it is — addiction, temperament, leaving dirty socks on the floor — we all need grace. Some offenses are easier to recover from than others, and sometimes there’s a healing process we have to go through. But we all have something in common with each other. We all fall short. And we all need grace.
Forgiveness is powerful. When we harbor bitterness, we hurt ourselves the most. We’re giving sin more power than God’s redemption. It’s a wasted effort. I know when I’m upset for an extended period of time, it takes more energy to be mad than it does to work through it and extend forgiveness. While we were dating, there were so many times I wouldn’t tell Josh why I was upset about something until later because I knew that in admitting it, my reason would sound really lame.
We need grace in all of our relationships. We need it with family, good friends, acquaintances and strangers. And for those of us who tend to be hard on ourselves, we need to give ourselves grace, too.
Sometimes we’re upset with people for things they did before we met them. Maybe a significant other or new friend did something in their past that affects us now. And we don’t like it. Even if they’ve grown and their past doesn’t define them today, we’re still upset. We overlook how far people have come and still judge them for what they’ve done. We disregard their efforts to do better. And we overlook God’s redemptive power.
I know that in my past, God used my negative experiences and redeemed them. He used them to teach me things, prepare me to handle something in my future, or give me insight to help someone else who would run into a similar situation. I don’t look at my downfalls as downfalls.
They’re teachable moments, and they are prone to inspire someone else someday. Every Sunday in church, we watch a video about someone who fell into sin or had something bad happen to them. And nearly every Sunday, it brings tears to my eyes to watch how God redeemed their lives. At the end of each video, there is someone who is made anew, set free from the chains of their past, and living wholeheartedly for God.
That’s how we should look at people whose stories upset us. We should treat them as a person, dearly loved by God, not as someone who doesn’t deserve redemption. If there’s one thing I do know about relationships, it’s that love covers all. We choose to hold grudges, and we choose to give forgiveness. We can choose to love people despite their mistakes because we mess up, too. Choose love, and give life to those around you.