The Other Side of Grace

Not too long ago I was trying to find a parking space at a nearby shopping center. I pulled into an aisle and up ahead I saw the lights of a vehicle beginning to back out of a space. Score! So I quickly put on my turn single to secure my spot.

And then…can you believe that another car snuck in and took my space! I am quite sure this has happened to you as well!

There was no possible way that car got there before me because the aisle was all clear when I turned on my signal. And because of the way this vehicle pulled out of the space, the other car had an advantage over me in turning into the space…even though it wasn’t their space to take!

So needless to say…I was not happy. Seriously? The nerve of people. I actually found a parking space a few cars back and pulled in to park.

As I got out of my car, these ladies were just getting out of theirs. They saw me and turned away quickly. You better believe I walked faster to catch up to them.

I can tell they were trying to ignore me. I was so ready to give them a piece of my mind but instead I…actually the Holy Spirit inside of me… nicely said “Hello!”. One lady looked at me and flat out said “We got there first!”

Ok Lord…now can I give them a piece of my mind…cuz they are straight lying ya know?

As we all continued to walk, I…again the Holy Spirit (because Lord knows I would have said something much different!) …proceeded to say “Well, it seemed that maybe we got there at the same time.”

She glared at me and said… “No we got there first!”

Ok Lord…now can I fight? So then I said, “Well it seemed to me that maybe we got there at the same time. No worries. Have a great day!” And I walked ahead of them and into the store.

Would you believe that the one lady ended up right next to me in the shoe department of the same store! I smiled. Funny Lord!

Then I walked over to the next aisle and the other lady ended up right next to me. I smiled again.

Then she began to say to me “You are such a nice person. I am so sorry for the way my sister is acting. I told her she needs to apologize to you. She is going through a lot in her life right now and is having a really tough day.”

Wow! I was completely caught off guard! Just then her sister came over to me with tears in her eyes and apologized. I gave her a hug and said it’s ok. We all have our days! I will pray for you and pray that your day gets better! She smiled and said thank you very appreciatively.

The Lord showed me the other side of grace that day.

Now don’t get me wrong…my flesh was ready to come out and give these ladies a piece of my carnal mind and some days this does actually happen! Not recommended of course.

But today was different. Today God was on a mission to very intentionally show Himself to me.

I didn’t initially want to extend grace to these ladies…but because I did I was able to see the other side of grace.

I was able to see a woman who had a lot going on…a woman who was clearly troubled and discouraged… a women burdened with life…instead of a woman who was inconsiderate…mean…rude…and a straight liar.

What about you? Have you seen the other side of grace lately? How often do you extend grace to others?

As Christians we must extend grace…not because someone deserves it…not because we get something in return…but because it is one of Christ’s virtues…because it is who Christ is…and because we are to model Christ!

Grace is commonly defined as “unmerited favor or pardon; undeserved mercy; unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

And that’s exactly what Jesus showed us on the cross! And that’s exactly what Jesus shows us every single day. Grace! We can’t earn it and we don’t deserve any of it…yet we receive it freely as a gift from God!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

By grace are you saved by faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

As we approach Easter this year…what a great reminder of God’s grace towards humanity. What a great reminder of God’s love, mercy, and compassion towards us…our very reason of having eternal life!

Christ’s death on a cross is more than just an event in history or a symbol of Christianity. It represents the very foundation of God’s grace.

I am reminded of the commonly coined acronym for GRACE.

GRACE= God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense

But grace means much more than that!

In Hebrew, the word “grace” comes from chen and the root word chanan which is translated as “to bend or stoop in kindness to another as a superior to an inferior.”

In Greek, the word “grace” comes from charis and has the idea of graciousness in manner or and the root word chairo translated as “to be cheerful, happy.”

When [Grace] is used in reference to God, it is the benevolent action of Him stooping down to us in His kindness to reach us in our need, and convey upon us a benefit. His grace has been termed ‘unmerited favor’ but it is more than an attitude of favor or mercy. His mercy is an expression of His compassion toward us, but His grace is an extension of benevolence translated into action that releases His enabling power into our lives.

I just love that!

And how interesting that one of the definitions for grace is “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

Look at this for minute…God’s grace is given to us for our sanctification. It gives us the power to live for Christ! It gives us the power to grow stronger in our faith!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14 NIV

What exactly does extending grace to others look like?

Extending forgiveness…. extending love(ie. not keeping a record of wrongs)…extending patience…extending kindness…extending gentleness…extending goodness…extending self- control…extending compassion…extending mercy…to others and especially to others who don’t deserve it!

I love these tips from Richard Blackaby in Putting a Face on Grace

  1. Speak words intended to build up, not to bring down.
  2. Focus on the needs of others, rather than your own.
  3. Freely forgive.
  4. Swallow you pride and say, “I’m sorry,” and “I was wrong.”
  5. Live your life with a goal of “no regrets.”
  6. Don’t keep score of what is fair.
  7. Don’t condemn or give up on people.
  8. Emphasize mercy, not justice.
  9. Read 1 Corinthians 13 regularly.

This is how we can reflect Christ and be an example for others to see Christ in us!

This Easter…let’s focus on the other side of grace and reflect on God’s grace to empower us to live our lives each and every day to show grace to others.

Happy Easter to all my Sweeter Than Honey Blog subscribers! Thank you for your support!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Identity Crisis

When I was a child I remember being asked by my parents… “Taleen…what do you want to be when you grow up?” And I remember saying “I want to be a doctor!”

At the time, I am not quite sure that I knew much about being a doctor or the amount of schooling it required, but one thing I do remember thinking was… “Doctor’s make great money and it sure seems to be a pretty prestigious occupation! So doctor it is!”

Some of you may recall your childhood answers such as an actress…a lawyer….a singer…or a nurse.

Well, now that you are all grown up, what if I were to ask you… “Who are you?” How would you respond?

You may answer I am a stay-at-home mom…or a teacher…or a doctor…or an accountant…or a designer…and the list can go on.

But what if I were to ask you “Who are you?” and add that your answer cannot include what you do. How would answer then?

This challenge was posed to me while reading an awesome book on Christian leadership called “Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence” by Jenni Catron.

We have been taught to define ourselves by what we do rather than who we are. Jenni Catron

Isn’t that so true!

I found this so eye-opening because we can see that at a very young age, we have learned to define who we are by what we do…our occupations…our roles…our responsibilities. And this has carried into our definition of who we are into our adulthood.

Why? Because we quickly learn as a child that we receive praise for this role that we are expected to live up to. “Wow Taleen…a doctor! That’s wonderful!”

And this is further encouraged when so often we received praise as a child for what we did…not necessarily for who we are.

My 5 year old son recently recited Psalm 23…word for word…all by himself and he received great praise for doing so. Of course he should! Why shouldn’t he? That is a great accomplishment right?

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with praising our children or even receiving praise as an adult…praise is certainly important! But consider the confusion this creates when it comes to defining who we really are and where our identity lies.

Our identity is…what defines us…what gives us our value…what gives us our self-worth.

And even as Christians we can experience this confusion…what we may call an “identity crisis.”

The term “identity crisis” is defined as “a feeling of unhappiness and confusion caused by not being sure about what type of person you really are or what the true purpose of your life is.”

Where do you find your identity? Is it in what you do…what you have accomplished…who the world thinks we are…who we believe we are?

When we learn to define ourselves by our roles, titles, responsibilities, accomplishments, mistakes and failures…when we allow our identity to be defined by everything and anything other than the very God who created us…we will have an identity crisis.

Your identity is in this constant state of chaos and change and influenced sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. What this leads to is a very inconsistent emotional and spiritual life. These are the things that may explain you, but they do not define you. Mark Driscoll

I love that he says that these things explain us…not define us!

Allowing our identity to be in anything other than Christ will leave us disappointed. Because everything in this world is subject to change…and only Christ and who He says we are is unchanging.

So who exactly does Christ say we are?

Well, for starters, we were bought at a price! (1 Corinthians 6:20)

What price? At the price of the blood of Christ being shed…At the price of Jesus dying on the cross for us! God sacrificed the life of his very own son for us…if that doesn’t make you feel valuable I am not sure what will!

Psalm 139:14 also states that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.

The context of the word “fearfully” here refers to the respect and reverence God has for us when He created us! This also demonstrates the value we have in God’s eyes!

Check out these scriptures to really grasp who God says we are!

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. 1Peter 2:9

He chose us in Him before the creation of the world…Ephesians 1:4

He predestined us to be adopted as his [daughters] through Jesus Christ…

He gave the right to become children of God… John 1:12

We should be called children of God…1 John 3:1

You are all [daughters] of God through faith in Christ Jesus… Galatians 3:26

You are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…Ephesians 2:19

Our citizenship is in heaven…Philippians 3:20

He set His seal of ownership on us…2 Corinthians 1:22

We are God’s workmanship… Ephesians 2:10

God made you alive with Christ… Colossians 2:13

God has made also an heir… Galatians 4:7

I have called you friends… John 15:15

If anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation…2 Corinthians 5:17

We are therefore Christ’s ambassador’s… 2 Corinthians 5:20

[God] seated us with Him in the heavenly realms… Ephesians 2:6

Doesn’t that just blow your mind?!! To be chosen…to be God’s daughter…to be considered royalty…to be an heir…to be seated with Him in heaven…just to name a few!

And not only can we can see who we are…but whose we are! Who it is that we belong to! (To truly understand whose we are and who God is…refer to previously posted blogs called “I Am” and “Seek His Face…Not Just His Hand.”)

Our identity can get entangled in our jobs, performance, talents, accomplishments, relationships, experiences, mistakes, failures, our own views, and our perceptions of what others expect or think of us.

As I reflect on who God says I am…I realize that I am not defined as a women’s pastor…or a wife of a professional baseball coach…or a mother of 2 boys.

I am chosen…I am royalty…I am a princess in God’s Kingdom…I am the daughter of the Most High God…I am valued…I am cherished…I have purpose…I am destined for greatness!

No matter what I think…or the world thinks!

The next time you begin to have an identity crisis…the next time you begin to doubt in yourself…the next time you don’t feel valued or worthy…remember Who Christ says you are and remind yourself Whose you are!

Remember who defines you and where your value comes from and begin to praise God Your Creator! …Because thank goodness we aren’t defined by our jobs…relationships…our mistakes…our shortcomings…who we think we are or should be…and most definitely not who others expect or think we are!

That’s a  load off your shoulders…isn’t it?!

Reflection Points:

  1. Who are you really?
  2. Where do you find your identity? Is it in what you do…what you have accomplished…who the world thinks we are…who we believe we are?
  3. Is your identity in Christ?
  4. Who does Christ say you are?

Action Points:

  1. As Christians, it is important that our identity is in Christ. If we put our value and self-worth in anything other than Christ we will be disappointed.
  2. We can easily put our identity in other things but by understanding and studying what God says about us, we can accept who we are in Christ and whose we are.
  3. Always remind yourself that you were bought with a price and the next time you don’t feel valued or worthy review the scriptures listed to gain a better understanding of who you are…and whose you are! And always praise Him!