In Part 1, we looked at what grace is and the encouragement we receive to “regift” it to others. In Part 2 we are considering a few ways we regift grace.
When we regift a gift we have received, we must be careful not to offend the person who gave it to us or the one we are giving it to. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but other circumstances often require great discretion.
When we regift God’s grace in the birth of His Son, if we do it as we received it from God—with love–it will be received with joy. Here are three ways we can pass on this treasured grace gift.
The Voice of Grace
The apostle Paul reminds us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
Words are powerful. They have the potential to inflame discord and inflict great emotional harm, or the capacity to encourage repentance and restoration, and offer healing and reconciliation.
When we become angry or emotional or hurt, our voice often rises and loses the tempering of grace. Some practical thoughts when tempted to speak angry or unkind words:
- Wait: Count to 10 before you speak. This is tried and true.
- Moderate: Speak slowly, calmly, gently and firmly.
- Think: Will these words inflame or dampen the tension?
- Consider: Would you like someone to speak such words, in that tone of voice, to you?
- Recognize: The words you speak today may be part of your relationship with that person for all the years to come.
- Realize: Your tone of voice can turn neutral words into destructive words.
- Remember: You love this person.
- Pray: Most of all, stop to pray before you speak. Make sure you are filled with His Spirit. Ask Him to govern your tongue, to release His love into your heart. Choose to be an instrument of God’s grace.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo is a powerful story of forgiveness and redemption. When Jean Valjean was released from a 19-year prison sentence for stealing bread, he was a hardened man. Looking for a place to sleep, he was invited in by a kind bishop. In the night, though, Valjean stole silver from the bishop and sneaked away.
In the morning the police brought him to the bishop, silver in hand. The bishop’s response: “So there you are. I’m delighted to see you. Had you forgotten that I gave you the candlesticks as well? Did you forget to take them?” And to the police: “This gentleman was no thief. This silver was my gift to him.”
That gift of mercy was the beginning of Valjean’s transformation.
It takes supernatural wisdom to blend justice based on truth—recognizing that wrong has been done–and benevolence based on grace.
But God was clear: Forgive. Extend grace. Seek reconciliation. Pursue conversation, not conflict. Keep your arms open. It’s not a balancing of truth and grace—it’s a blending of 100% truth and 100% grace.
God is our model here. When I wanted my prodigal to experience the painful results of his bad choices, I would recall how God had responded to my many bad choices: Mercy. Forgiveness. Grace.
His Word underlines this repeatedly:
“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” (Luke 17:4)
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)
Philip Yancey, author of What’s So Amazing About Grace, writes:
“Like grace, forgiveness has about it the maddening quality of being undeserved, unmerited, unfair … the gospel of grace begins and ends with forgiveness….”
Henri Nouwen says:
“…even as I have said [I forgive you]…I still wanted to hear the story that tells me I was right…I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving praise in return…for being so forgiving.
“But God’s forgiveness is unconditional. It demands that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged, and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and one whom I am asked to forgive.”
And again from Philip Yancey:
“…forgiveness is an act of faith. By forgiving another, I am trusting that God is a better justice-maker than I am…I leave in God’s hands the scales that must balance justice and mercy… though wrong does not disappear when I forgive, it loses its grip on me and is taken over by God, who knows what to do.”
If you know a prodigal, you surely know the Story of the Prodigal Son, but most of us have learned it is about two prodigal sons—the repentant younger and the resentful elder. I believe it’s primarily about the Grace-full Father. (Luke 15:11-31)
Picking up the story as the son returns home:
“But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father told his servants, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.” (Luke 15:20-24)
Here’s what the son did:
He shamed his father by asking for his inheritance—which is equal to wishing his father to be dead.
He took a significant portion of his father’s livelihood.
He sinned extravagantly.
He squandered all of it with wild living.
Then he despaired, came to his senses, repented and returned.
Here’s what the father did:
He gave him his inheritance.
He let him go.
He watched and waited (and I imagine he prayed).
When he saw him coming, he ran to him, embraced him, kissed him. Then he threw a party for him. He reinstated him in the family.
Does this make sense? NO!! Did the son deserve such grace? NO!!
Is it fair that someone who has hurt you repeatedly, abused your kindness, rejected your love, should be forgiven and welcomed back? Of course not.
But is it fair that we, imperfect, inadequate, unworthy as we are, should be forgiven, redeemed and bound for eternity with our God? Of course not.
You see, we are addicted to fairness, to justice, to revenge, to earning our way, to performance. Yet in reality, we truly don’t want God to respond to us based on those addictions.
We can’t help but be grateful that God is, in the best sense, addicted to grace. Yes, to scandalous grace!
And He wants to pour out that grace on us, but also through us to every person we encounter.
Grace is His Christmas gift to us and we are His means to give it to the world. We have a new year to practice this beautiful regifting of His grace gifts.
What about you? Which of these grace gifts might you regift?
C2017 Judy Douglass