“Led in with joy and gladness, they enter the palace of the king.”
One of the things I adore about writing is the close friendship I feel with my Heavenly Father. It is like meeting with a friend for a meal…no kids, no spouses, no distractions, just us. My favorite place to be is sitting at my King’s feet and listening as He tells me what to speak. That’s how I woke this morning. There was a stirring in my heart and my pen was set to write.
I’ve had several people ask me this past week how to practice and develop an art for grace. Then, I went to a ladies outing at my church last evening, beautiful, and the speaker spoke on forgiveness. Forgiveness to me is only one demonstration or expression of grace. What does it mean to show grace?
Grace means, unmerited favor. The dictionary says it’s, “seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.”
Grace is something we should all be obsessed with because it is the essence of Christ’s existence. He came and shed His blood as an absolute act of grace, unmerited favor that we did not deserve, and no matter how each person responds to it, it was an offering made for all. Far too many are fixated on His judgment that it keeps them from experiencing more. Whether it’s judgment of others or self-condemnation. But all of this is futile when you think about how gorgeous He is, really gorgeous. We should be so in awe of his beauty and mercy that it would outshine anything else we could fix our attention upon. When we do this, it will flow over us, fill us and seep out of us onto others. When it flows from us onto others it may be the only taste of Jesus others have ever had.
With all this being said, here is the question I was asked by two different people this past week…
“If you can’t be gracious to someone who has hurt you, can you fake it?”
That’s a tough question and I do not profess to have the best Biblical answer, but here is what I do know and here is what my experience has been… I believe the answer is no. Grace is not something you “fake”. This creates a quandary for many for the Bible clearly tells us to be gracious and merciful one to another. If we don’t’ have it in our heart how can we do it without faking it? I believe I have an explanation for that as well and it is found in Philippians 4:8
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”
The answer I gave to both women resides in this passage. I am a people lover. My heart truly gushes and I have a special love for the outcast, people who don’t expect to be loved. Even though I am a people lover, of course, this doesn’t mean I have a lot in common with every human being or have the same world view or core beliefs. People are different and I think this is a good thing (how boring the world would be if we were all a cookie cut image of the same exact cookie) because though we are created in God’s likeness, He is a God of Imagination and Creativity. The artistic creative side of myself loves this! Color is good on all levels! It adds vibrance to life, but it also means people are going to disagree or just be different. Here is how you can handle those disagreements or differences lovingly…focus your heart on Phil. 4:8. You can find something beautiful in everyone, even the people most opposite yourself in lifestyles and core beliefs. I find what I admire in a person and I focus on that. If you know me at all or have read much of my writing, you know that I am huge into affirmation and praising people. HUGE! Primarily, words of affirmation is my primary love language so of course it is what’s going to ooze out of me first. I love to encourage others and love on them this way. I don’t even think about it, it just comes out like I am thinking out loud. I feel people need it because we live in a world that is very quick to criticize and not so generous with lifting others higher than themselves. Just two days ago my husband and I got into a conversation with our server at a local coffee house. She had a very unique name and my husband asked its origin. Before we left I told her it was a beautiful name, very unique. Here was her reply, “I always hated my name until the 7th grade when a girl in my class told me she liked it because no one else had it.” After that, she didn’t dislike her name anymore.
One person’s small act of verbal encouragement completely changed her mindset about a personal attribute.
Praise is powerful! But it does have to be genuine. Because I am prone to praise, I praise. However, like I told these two women, I never say anything I don’t mean. My whole life I am very honest and truthful. Even if I wanted to lie I wouldn’t get away with it because I am horrible at it. It’s just not in me. Because I can find something I really admire or appreciate in anyone…that’s what I stick with. When you focus on what you do like about others it makes it easy to like all of them, pretty simple really.
I fully understand that not everyone is comfortable with this expression of love. Grace and Encouragement doesn’t always have to be a direct verbal exhortation. It can simply be a live and let live principle. It can be expressed with patience, acts of service, generosity, how ever you feel most comfortable expressing it for like I said, we are a bountiful flavor basket of options for how we express the fruit of the Spirit. But here’s what I know, when we practice grace in our hearts, through a choice of attitude (it really is all about attitude) and attitude is always a choice. It’s never about how you feel, or if you’re having a bad day or if you knew my situation, attitude is always a choice. God will honor a positive and gracious attitude with Joy. (Psalm 45) Always remember, those who struggle the most with grace probably need it most for love is required to heal and mend whatever brokenness resides upon their heart. Grace and patience are companions. People don’t mend overnight, we aren’t garments, but we are wrapped in flesh and blood and all of us need a lot of Love. Never wait for others to love you first, lead like Jesus and love more, you will adore the reward your Father lavishes on you for it. I can promise that.
Another necessary component for genuine grace is surrender. All personalities are different and have strengths and weaknesses. Some forgive quickly and don’t offend easily and others tend to hold on, that’s ok, we are only human. Don’t be so hard on yourself. God knows we can’t truly do it without him. You have to just lay it at his feet and tell God plain and simple, “I can’t do it, but you can. Heavenly Father, will you bless me with the ability to over come?” He will do it. I know He will.
You are beautiful in so many ways. We don’t need to be perfect. Perfect has already been done. All we have to do is spend our lives drawing near to His Perfection and gleaning from His Goodness and basking in His Love. You are complete in Him and He has promised to be faithful to complete the good work He has begun in you. God is always up to something good.
May the Grace, Mercy and unmerited Favor of God flood your soul this day. May He give you the Grace and Peace you seek and make the contentment of your heart complete. He is with you…always.
Much Joy, Love and Grace in Him,