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Devotional: Sharing Grace

Sharing Grace Devo Pic

 

When I was growing up, I lived, ate, slept, and breathed horses. I didn’t participate in school sports because I was far more invested in my riding. I had friends but none of them were especially close and I definitely went through some awkward phases, particularly in middle school. I didn’t exactly “fit in” and I struggled to feel accepted by my peers. Most days I couldn’t wait to get out of class so that I could run home, change, and head to the barn. I loved being with my horses. I don’t think I realized this back then, but after taking some time to reflect, one of the reasons I believe I loved being at the barn so much was because my horses didn’t judge me like some of the kids at school did. I wasn’t evaluated based on how cool my clothes were or whether or not I fit in with the popular crowd; my horses loved me for who I was and I loved them. The knowledge that I was accepted gave me confidence and allowed me to freely be who God created me to be. I used to wish that it felt like that when I was at school with my friends.

In many ways, the feeling that I had when I was around my horses is very similar to the feeling that I experience knowing Jesus Christ as my savior. However, there is one major difference – Jesus knows me fully; He knows the good and the bad. He has seen my heart and chooses to love me regardless. In the presence of Christ, I am free, like I was with my horses but even more so, to be who God created me to be. I am no longer burdened by shame or guilt, and instead I experience the love and compassion of a merciful, heavenly father. Because of Jesus, those who trust in Him are not looked upon with judgement but with grace.

Now, imagine how differently you would view others if you saw them this way; the way that Jesus does. We all long to feel loved and accepted (the way I did with my horses) and for others to give us the freedom of grace. So why is it that we so often deprive other people of that same love that we wish they gave us? Pastor Barry opened his sermon on Sunday by reflecting on how different his view of the world was after using glasses for the first time, comparing it to the difference in our vision when we view people through the lens of grace. But how often do we actually do this? As we grow deeper in our relationship with Jesus, we experience acceptance through His grace and mercy, but do we allow that same grace to permeate the way we view others?

In Luke 7:47, Jesus says to Simon the Pharisee, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (ESV) Jesus is telling us that the forgiveness of this woman’s many sins enables her to love much; but the forgiveness she has received does not only enable her to love her redeemer, it enables her to love others as well. By contrast, Simon the Pharisee struggles to see this woman as more than her sin because he is not viewing her through the lens of grace; he is not viewing her as Christ does and in doing so, judges her rather than loves her. Based on his reaction to this woman, Simon’s view of his own depravity is stunted, and his understanding of grace is limited. When we experience the grace of Jesus and rest in the finished work of Christ, it doesn’t simply change the way we view ourselves, it changes everything: including the way we see and love others. Through grace, we are able to fully admit our own depravity knowing that our perceived righteousness would never be enough to atone for our sin. This removes the need for judgement and comparison of others because we have no need to make ourselves righteous when we have the righteousness of Christ.

Brothers and sisters, do you find yourself viewing others as Simon the Pharisee viewed the woman? Or judging those in your life to feel righteous so that you can add to the work of Christ with your own merits? Fear not my friends, because even in this struggle there is abounding grace. We have a savior who has overcome this and is walking with us down the path of sanctification. He is growing us to be more like himself. In your walk with Christ, if you are struggling to love others like Simon the Pharisee, seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him to reveal the areas in your heart where you are not trusting Him with your salvation. And praise Him for revealing this to you so that you may repent and put off your old self to walk in the righteousness of Christ. When we dwell on the grace we have received through Him, we are able to share that grace with others, loving them as He has loved us.