I don’t know about you, but I struggle with the concept of grace. The Definition of Grace?
“A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.”
Hmm… yep, definitely not good at that!
When someone cuts you off on the freeway or swoops into the parking spot you had been waiting for, or insults someone or something you strongly believe in, how to you react? My first thought? “strike back, show them how wrong they are” Maybe that means tail-gating them, or going around them and cutting them off, or giving them a dirty look in the store, or turning around and insulting something they believe in. -- That all sounds very childish when written out, doesn’t it? It sounds like something I would have done in elementary school; yet these are still the first thoughts to cross my mind when people “wrong” me today.
How do we go about changing this heart issue? It’s clear that the reactions above do not clearly represent the loving nature of Christ, which we are to reflect.
“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
– Romans 22-24
Here are a few things that I have been trying lately to help address these issues within my own heart.
- Wait 5 seconds before you respond to anything – I’ve found that after about 5 seconds, my initial “fight or flight” instinct is gone and I can rationally think about what happened, and if it’s worth having a nasty reaction over. This may be 10 or 20 seconds for you. Find what works best.
- Ask yourself “What if it was actually JESUS in that car, person, ect?” – I have started doing this in traffic especially. How would I treat that car or person if it was Jesus driving beside me or standing in front of me? This has literally changed the way I drive and respond to people.
- Pray – After I have stopped, then asked myself “What if that was Jesus?”, the very next thing I do is pray. I pray that the Lord would either give me the words to speak to the person I am talking to, or I pray over the person in the car in front of me. This is usually a very quick “Lord, lead me” or “Lord, bless them” kind of prayer. Not only does it bless the other person, it gives a very tangible peace to my heart.
While striking back may feel good for about 10 seconds before the regret and embarrassment kicks in, responding with grace and humility provides an opportunity to feel the presence of God around you, to sit in His perfect peace and know that you responded the best way you know how.
Do you have any tips on how you respond with grace to people or situations in your life? I would love additional tips and ideas, as I’m still learning and growing in this!
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."
-2 Peter 3:18