Having Received Grace, We Pass It To Others
by Jeremiah Ooi
EGR for those of us who have been in church long enough, we know what it means.
“Extra Grace Required”. This phrase is usually used in the context of people that we find difficult to minister to, hence why extra grace is needed to enable us to deal with such people. However, I would like to invite us to look at this phrase somewhat differently today, through a different lens. Instead of being a label that we throw around, perhaps we can see it as a mandate on the way we should live our lives.
When we talk about grace in the church, it is often in the context of God’s grace to us, and rightly so! God’s grace is the foundation of our faith. Romans 3:23-24 ESV says:
vs.23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
vs.24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
The only reason why we can call ourselves “Christians” is because God first extended his grace to us.
The Bible is clear that we are not only supposed to receive grace but are to extend it to others as well. We all remember the parable of the wicked servant who gets forgiven a huge debt but does not forgive a small debt owed to him. Upon discovering the servant’s failure to extend grace to another, the master says, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?”
WHAT IS ‘GRACE’ ?
The most commonly accepted definition of ‘grace’ is ‘unmerited favour’.
These words carry the following meanings:
■ ‘unmerited’ – undeserved
■ ‘favour’ – approval, support, liking, kindness
It is interesting that in the New Testament, the Greek word ‘charis’ is used for grace, but Jesus is never quoted as using the word ‘charis’. Yet, he is obviously described repeatedly as having grace.
Perhaps, it was not necessary for Jesus to talk about or use the word ‘grace’ simply because he lived it. Through his living demonstration, we have a better understanding of what grace is. For example, just in Luke 5 alone, Jesus showed us what it means to give grace:
■ When the leper (an outcast of society because of physical/health reasons) came to Jesus and said “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean”, Jesus did not shun or reject the leper. Instead, Jesus replies “I am willing. Be clean!”
■ When Jesus saw Levi, the tax collector (an outcast of society for moral/spiritual reasons), someone who is despised and hated by most people, Jesus says to him “FOLLOW ME”. In other words, Jesus was saying to this outcast “come and be associated with me/be seen with me/hang out with me”
■ And right after that, Jesus takes things to another level and attends a party hosted by Levi where “a large crowd of tax collectors” were there. Jesus sits and eats with the tax collectors, only to be judged immediately by the Pharisees and teachers of the law.
This is grace.
How should we show grace to others?
There are many ways we can show grace to others, but I would like to suggest three practical ways.
TTF THINKING TALKING FORGIVING. The following scenarios can occur from time to time, and while they are meant to be funny, they should hopefully cause us to reflect as well:
THINKING Scenario 1:
You walk into your pastor’s office and see a brand-spanking new Samsung 70 inch TV mounted on the wall.
You also notice a new sound system around the room.
You immediately think to yourself:
■ the church is swimming in cash. Time to reduce my tithes and offering
■ pastor needs to fast and pray more. He is clearly not a good steward of the church’s resources
■ why pastor have; I don’t have??
■ I am sure pastor, will put this new entertainment system to good use. This is great!
THINKING Scenario 2:
You are happily walking in the city when out of the corner of your eye, you notice a familiar face. You turn and see one of your church leaders sitting across a very attractive lady in a café, and they are chatting away happily. The lady is not his wife. You:
■ Think to yourself: “You gonna burn! BURN!!!!”
■ Go up to him and, in dramatic fashion, scream ‘Fie on you, you cur!’ (old English for ‘shame on you, you, dog!’)
■ Secretly take a photo of him and the lady and send it to everyone in your cell group with the caption “tsk tsk tsk”
■ Think to yourself: “He is having a chat with a colleague. Good to see that he is getting along with colleagues at work.”
I am not asking you to be naïve if something obviously wrong is taking place. What I am asking you to do though, is to think about others the way you would like others to think about you.
Sometimes, this can be as simple as giving someone the benefit of the doubt.
Philippians 2:3 ESV tells us to “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves’, and Philippians 4:8 ESV tells us to dwell on thoughts that are noble, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy.
TALKING THE BEST ABOUT OTHERS
Here, I am not referring to saying nice things to a person but saying nice things about a person in the presence of others.
If we say something nasty to a person directly, we know that it can crush their spirit. But I think that often, the bigger problem is when we say nasty things about people behind their back. In other words, we gossip.
James 3:5-6 ESV says:
■ Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
■ The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…
We know that gossip is bad, but as Christians, we need to be really careful because a lot of us have become really good at gossiping under the pretence of ministry. We use certain words to make it seem (to others and to ourselves) that it is fine, but really we are gossiping.
■ “You know I really think highly of Jon, but …”
■ “I really shouldn’t tell you this because I don’t want to colour your view of the pastor, but…”
■ “I’m not sure if I should say this to you, but did you know that…”
One definition of ‘gossip’ that I heard years ago and find rather interesting is this – gossip is when you talk about an issue with someone who is neither the problem nor the solution.
Colossians 3:13 ESV says, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
■ Forgiveness is often not a one-off event, but a continuous process of repeatedly choosing to forgive.
■ Forgiveness must be unconditional.
■ Forgiveness is really for your own good, not the other person’s.
If we do not forgive, and we harbour bitterness, we will be the ones who hurt the most. Not only will we hurt ourselves, we often then hurt others as well.
What we have looked at today is not ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ but I trust that if we can put these things into practice, our churches, workplaces and homes will become more beautiful, and more will be drawn to Christ as his grace flows in and through us. END
Jeremiah Ooi works as a corporate lawyer and serves in Zion Praise Harvest Church, Perth where he is called to mentor young professionals.
The above is what he shared in church last year.