What’s the one present we always keep, even as we gladly pass it on?
God’s extravagant gift of grace.
As if his grace isn’t enough (and truly, it is), the Lord also bestows very particular gifts on each one of his children.
Gifts we are meant to use. Gifts we are meant to share.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
Rest assured, “each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts” (CEV). Not just some believers—all believers receive “a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment” (AMP).
Whether it’s serving or teaching, encouraging or leading, showing mercy or giving generously, when we exercise those gifts, we become “faithful dispensers of the magnificently varied grace of God” (PHILLIPS).
The words grace and gift are one and the same.
Charis in Greek. Love in any language.
You and I have spent the last seven Wednesdays learning how to embrace grace. This week we’ll learn how to give it away. Even when it’s hard. Even when we’d rather hold that precious gift tight against our chests.
Because of grace we can say, “God loves you, and I love you.”
Because of grace we can say, “I forgive you, just as I have been forgiven.”
Because of grace we can do what God calls us to do for one another.
These seven one anothers in Scripture offer a good finishing point for our study, and a fine starting place for embracing The Forgiven Life.
1. “Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10).
We’re not just talking about “showing respect” (CJB) to other believers; we’re talking about “putting them first” (VOICE). Ahead of us. Above us.
Easy to say, yet often hard to do—at least, for this girl. Any “willingness to let the other man have the credit” (PHILLIPS) would have to come from God. And that’s the point. This isn’t a New Testament version of the Ten Commandments, a thou-must-do list. This is a look-what-God-can-do-through-us list.
Only by his power can we embrace humility. Only by his strength can we “practice playing second fiddle” (MSG).
2. “Live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).
Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? “Be of the same mind” (ASV), “agree with each other” (NIRV), and “live together in peace” (ERV).
A life without drama, without arguments, without slamming doors or raised voices. If we want that life, we need to go first. Like that song we sang in high school glee club, “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
3. “Accept one another” (Romans 15:7).
When you buy an item from the sale table marked “As Is,” you know there’s a flaw somewhere, and agree to overlook it without complaint. That’s what it means to “receive one other” (NET), to “treat each other as…welcome guests” (OJB).
If we could do this in our homes, that would be game-changing enough. If we could also do this in our churches, then every Sunday would be a family reunion, filled with hugs and shining faces and heartfelt good wishes.
4. “Be kind and compassionate to one another” (Ephesians 4:32).
Sweet, isn’t it? Yet as lovely as these descriptive words are—“tenderhearted” (AMP), “merciful” (CEV), “sympathetic” (GW), “understanding” (WE)—what it really comes down to is forgiveness.
It’s more than shared cups of hot chocolate and thank-you notes tucked in purses. It’s rubber-meets-the-road Christianity. “Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you” (MSG).
When it comes to forgiveness, Jesus isn’t simply our example: he’s the One who makes it possible.
5. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
There are other ways to phrase it—“exhort” (ASV), “comfort” (KJV),“cheer” (NIRV)—but it’s hard to beat the word encourage. Hidden inside it is the Greek word, kardia, usually translated “heart.”
We fill each others’ hearts, we build up rather than tear down, we look for ways to brighten rather than diminish. Thumper’s father taught him, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
But God says, “Go ahead. Say something nice.”
6. “Spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Some sharp points on those spurs, Cowboy. Just the thing to wear, if we’re going to “provoke” (GNV), “motivate” (CEB), and “incite” (AMP) each other to keep busy with “noble activities” (AMP).
It’s easy to stay home, to chill out, to seek our own pleasure. God calls and equips us to do more. To get out there, to help others, to “show love and do good deeds” (EXB). At the end of the day, it’s meeting the needs of others that satisfies us most.
7. “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
That’s the sum of it: love your brothers and sisters in Christ. Do it “fervently” (ASV) and “earnestly” (CEB), from a “pure heart” (AMP).
The same way we love our family? Yes. In fact, “Love one another as if your lives depended on it” (MSG).
I confess, studying these one anothers has pierced my heart.
If God loves us—and he does—then let’s tell everyone, “God loves you.”
If God shows mercy to us—and he does—then let’s show others what his mercy looks like.
By all means, embrace grace, beloved. Then throw open your arms and give it away. knowing it’s God’s grace, pouring through you. You will never run out. You will always have more than enough.
Now, it’s your turn:
- What elements of your past—whether sordid or solid—might God use to reach the hearts of other women?
This is one of the many things I love about God. He uses it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. As each year goes by he brings to mind memories I’ve hidden away, scenes I’ve tried to forget. By bringing them out into the light of day, they are no longer weapons the enemy can use against me; rather, they’re tools God can use for his good purposes.
- If you grew up in a Christian home, how has that shaped you? And if you did not grow up in a Christian home, how has that shaped you?
I grew up in a home where church was a one-hour activity, rather than a 24/7 reality. Still, I’m grateful for that weekly dose of Good News. Those seeds were planted in the fertile soil of this child’s heart, then watered by a loving and patient God, who knew the day would finally come when those seeds would sprout.
- Are your arms open wide, and your heart as well? If so, you’re ready to help others embrace grace!
That’s been the prayer of my heart and the purpose of this study. You alone know what God has taught you. Bless those who’ve shared their discoveries here. As we look toward Easter, may you always know the truth…
You are loved. All is forgiven.
Your sister, Liz
Beginning next Wednesday…
P.S. If you’ve read the book, Embrace Grace, I’d be grateful if you popped on Amazon.com, ChristianBook.com, and/ or BarnesandNoble.com and offered a brief review. Your words will help other readers decide if Embrace Grace is the resource for them. God bless you for doing so!