The grace of God is amazing indeed. We should all marvel at God’s willingness to make a way for us to be forgiven over and over again in spite of the fact we have committed to change so many times. The problem is that we tend to take grace as something that belongs at church and has nothing to do with our ordinary daily life at home and on the job.
Think of three statements in the New Testament that have to do with this topic. One is 2 Peter 3:18 where we are challenged to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Another is in Colossians 4:4-6 where we are told to let our speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt so we will be able to answer any one whom we talk with about the Lord. The final one is in I Peter 3:7 where Peter is talking to husbands and told them to dwell with their wives according to understanding giving honor to the wife as the weaker vessel and as being heirs together of the grace of life so that our prayers won’t be hindered.
The fact that grace is specifically spoken of in relation to the family relationship between husbands and wives should go a long way in helping us see how it can be applied in family life. Peter takes that point and applies it to our way of answering each other. He tells us not to return reviling for reviling but when someone offers an insult to us we are to return a blessing for to this we are called so we might inherit a blessing.
What if we applied grace to all of our family situations? How would such grace affect relationships? How would this grace influence others in the family who may not know God yet? Grace has often been defined as “unmerited favor”. It could also be defined as “beauty, gracefulness, kindness and treating people according to their needs instead of what they deserve.”
In Ephesians 4:32 we are told to “Be kind one to another, forgiving one another as God for Christ has forgiven you.” William Barclay said of this verse that it could be translated, “Grace one another as God for Christ sake has graced you.”
We all tend to think our job is to treat others as they treat us instead of treating them as we would like for them to treat us. From childhood we’ve learned to say, “but they started it.” If our mate says something ugly to us, it is seen as the norm for us to say something equally ugly to them if not just a little worse. Parents often become frustrated and angry at their children because they don’t respect them as they should. But all too often it is the case that the parent doesn’t show any respect for the child, nor to their mate while they become frustrated when a child doesn’t respect them.
It is worth remembering that God laid out the principle, you will reap what you sow. All the way back to creation it is stated that everything will bring forth after its own kind. God had the apostle Paul to take that principle and apply it to spiritual matters in Galatians 6:7-8.
If we sow grace in the way we treat one another and in the way parents treat their children it will tend to come back to us in the same way. But if we show no respect for our partner for life and little to no respect for our children then we have no reason to think it will come back to us from our mate or our children.
Please understand that I’m not saying if we treat our children with respect that they will always treat us with the same respect. The truth is there are more things being sown into the heart of our children than just what we as parents are sowing there. If you have ever had a garden you know that there are lots of things that come up in a garden besides what you have sown there. Many things come up in the garden that no one sowed there. Some come from seeds dropped by birds or other animals. Some seeds were there already when we started working on the garden.
In our children’s lives they are having things sown from what they see on television, radio, ipods, from games they play and people they are around. Teachers sow into our child’s mind. Friends are planting seeds all the time. We can’t isolate our children from every other influence they might face. We may shield them from some people and some influences, but it is usually only temporary.
Have you noticed when we get upset and say something unkind to another family member we expect them to remember all the good things we’ve said and done in the past and take this time as an oddity and give us some slack on the matter. Strangely we don’t tend to feel the same way about others when they say something unkind to us.
it is good for us to remember that God extends grace over and over again to us. If we can learn from him and extend grace in the same way it will bless the whole family.
Focus on how grace reacts when another member of the family has messed up and done some things that bring shame on the family. In time they realize what they have done and ask for forgiveness. You tell them you forgive them. But a few days later something else happens and they make another mistake and step across the line that you have given them. You confront them for their mistake and remind them of the last time they brought shame on the family and how they promised they wouldn’t do that again.
Is that extending grace? Is that the way God deals with us when we fail and bring reproach on his family name? When God forgives us he doesn’t remember the sins against us ever again. As far as the east is from the west he hides our sins away from us and from his memory.
If we learn from God how to extend grace to others in our family it will mean that we don’t return evil for evil or insult for insult but when we are insulted we return a blessing instead. God says we are called to such conduct. When we extend grace to others in the family we are teaching them about God and good living. We are showing them how to deal with others who hurt them. We are demonstrating that in our family life there is always a way back into the good graces of the family.
Through the years I’ve known multitudes of people who have messed up big time in their life and feel there is no way to come back. They see the mistakes they’ve made as too bad and too big to ever have forgiveness or a fresh start. No one appreciates the fullness of grace who hasn’t marveled at the grace offered to them by God or by other people in their lives.
Start a new family tradition. Offer grace instead of giving to others what they deserve. It will make room for the black sheep to come home and no longer be a black sheep. Grace is always extending a hand, offering a rope to climb up.