Extending Grace in a Culture of Revenge

Carnegie-1903There are 5 members of my family. I have two older brothers, Tyson and Brian. They are both in the medical field working as doctors. My Father made his living as a Physical Therapist and business owner while my Mom stayed at home. I had a great experience growing up. My family demonstrated mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

Grace is what I want to speak to you about. Grace is defined as getting something you don’t deserve. It comes from the Greek word charis, which means favor, blessing, or kindness. Grace is giving a blessing we don’t deserve. I want to share moments in my life where this type of grace or blessing was shown to me by members of my family.

My Dad is a huge Baseball fan. He built a Baseball field in our backyard and was the coach of my team throughout my youth. One day, before a game, my Dad and I got into an argument and we refused to talk. He still put me in the lineup and let me play in the game. When it was my turn to bat, I hit the ball over the fence, which we call homerun. It’s like scoring a goal in soccer. As I was rounding the bases, everyone, including my Dad, was cheering for me. When he gave me a high five, I ignored him. After the game, I felt really bad. However, my Dad wasn’t angry with me. He chose to forgive. I didn’t deserve to have this grace extended, but He chose to forget about the situation.

It was my 16th birthday. I just got my driver’s license and wanted to show off to my friends my Mom’s brand new Mustang convertible car. One friend asked if he could take the car for a ride. I said, “Go right ahead, but don’t drive past the end of the street.” Immediately, He got into the car, sped down the end of the street, and ignored my instruction and kept speeding down the road. As he took a turn, he hit a mailbox and fence. It damaged the side of my Mom’s car. When she found out about it, her face was hot with anger. It was the first time I ever say my Mom really upset. The amazing thing was she forgave me just a day later and cooked me dinner. I didn’t deserve this blessing and affection. This was grace.

My oldest brother and I got into a heated argument one day. I decided to get out the boxing gloves and told him, “I can take you, wimp.” My brother said alright, but I got scared. I ran in circles around our yard so he couldn’t catch me. Finally, he gave up, but I think he was showing mercy to me. He didn’t want to beat me up even though I deserved it.

Recently, while studying at the seminary, my wife and I spoke to a gentleman about ministry outside our apartment. We were planning on eating dinner soon, but this man continued talking to me. I told Olya to go ahead to our room, cook the meal, and I will be there in a few minutes. Those few minutes lasted for 30 minutes. She called me and said, “The food is ready. Please come now.” I said okay; just give me 5 more minutes. That turned into another 30 minutes. Finally, she called me on the phone and said the food is cold. When I got to the apartment, the food was still there on the table. She put it in the microwave, served me the meal, and was only upset for a moment. She decided to still love me even though I didn’t deserve it at the time.

Like me, most people here have experienced some type of grace or forgiveness in their lives. But when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. The examples above were conditional grace. My Dad might have forgiven me because he didn’t want others to see his anger. My Mom could have shown me grace so that she didn’t have to deal with any more confrontation. My wife could have forgiven me so that bitterness wouldn’t enter into her heart, making our marriage worse. See there is benefit in this type of grace for both people.

But the grace of God is unconditional. It doesn’t benefit Him like it does for us. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. Read Ephesians 2:1-9. Here we see that God shows both mercy and grace. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. Consider this illustration: you were stopped in your car going 30 kilometers over the speed limit. The ticket is high and you can’t pay it. You appear before the judge with nothing to say. He hears your case, and to your surprise, he cancels your fine. That is mercy. But the judge doesn’t stop there. He walks you outside and hands you the keys to a new car. That is grace.

In mercy, God chose to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place. 2 Corinthians 5:21 states: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  In Romans 5:10 the Bible states, “Through Jesus he reconciled to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

That’s why salvation is found in no one else but Jesus. He is the only one worthy to pay the penalty for our sins demanded by God’s holiness (Revelation 5:4-5). Only when our sins are dealt with in Christ can we enter heaven. We cannot pay our own way. There is no amount of good works or religious acts that we can do to earn God’s favor. Repeat: It is only by grace that we are saved. When we confess this to God, turn from our sin, God is faithful and just to forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).”

If you are a believer here this morning, I want you to think about your life. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I extend grace to others out of duty or because of my love for Christ? Am I trying to earn God’s favor by attending church services, dressing modestly, and reading my Bible, or because I want to be holy, please God, and have a relationship with Him? Lastly, I want to challenge you to think of at least one way you can extend grace to someone this week, whether it’s sending a card, smiling at a stranger, sharing the good news of Jesus, or anything that would extend grace and love towards others.  

For unbelievers: If you want to trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior, do it now! God promises He will answer your prayers. If you don’t know what to say, you can say this out loud: “Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner who deserves Hell. I also realize you are a loving God who doesn’t desire for people to perish, but to be saved. You died on the cross for my sins and I am eternally grateful for that. I accept your free gift of salvation. With your help, I am willing to forsake my sin and put my trust and faith solely in you. Thanks for your marvelous grace. I believe all these words are true and declare them in the name of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

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