Aspects of God’s Grace – Forgiveness

Oct 26

Aspects of God’s Grace – Forgiveness

What is God’s grace? This is a question I’ve asked myself and I’ve seen asked over the past few weeks. We talk about “receiving God’s grace” and “asking for God’s grace”, but what does that really mean? It turns out it means a lot more that I thought. Explore with me over the next few weeks the definitions and explanations of God’s grace.

Series Overview

Salvation and Gifts of the Spirit

Patience

We can never forgive others more than God has already forgiven us.

I repeat this sometimes when I’ve been hurt by someone. I also remember that no one is required, not really, to offer me anything. People will break promises. People will hurt me. I’m learning to release expectations of others and allowing them to live their own life.

I talked before about God’s great love for us. He loves us unconditionally and wants to have a relationship with us. The entire circle of grace is completed when we understand that God is patient with us and desires no one to perish. He offers salvation and spiritual gifts  when we ask him for forgiveness and that salvation through His son, Jesus.

The story doesn’t end there, because we’re also required to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

One example of this aspect of grace is shown in Les Miserable. Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman in the movie) was cared for by a priest after his escape from prison. After everyone has gone to bed, Jean begins filling bags with silver and other precious objects from the church and leaves. He’s caught by the guards and brought back to the church where he faces the priest who cared for him. The guards tell the priest Jean told them the priest gave him these things. Jean knows he’s caught and waits for the priest to turn him over to the guards. Instead, the priest says yes, he did give him those things, but he didn’t take the best things. The priest then gives him two more silver candlesticks sitting on a table behind him.

This act of forgiveness and grace changes Jean’s life. He changes his name and becomes a completely different person. This is what God’s grace does for us.

When we forgive even those who have hurt us, we’re showing that same compassion the priest showed in the movie. We’re giving that same grace and forgiveness that God offered us.

Another story comes from the Bible, Matthew 18:21-25. A man who owes a very large debt to the king is brought to him. He can’t pay it, there’s no way it could ever be paid in his lifetime. He asks for mercy and the king released him from his debt.

The man left the palace, debt free, but sees someone who owed him a smaller amount. He grabs the man and demands the money owed to him, showing none of the compassion or grace that was offered him. The man has the borrower thrown into jail – a situation guaranteeing that the debt would never be repaid. The king hears of this and has the man with the forgiven debt arrested as well.

Our forgiveness of others is a reflection of our relationship with God. The servant who was forgiven didn’t reflect back the grace he’d been given from the king the way Jean did in Les Miserable. When God offers forgiveness, he doesn’t bring the matter up again. We need to do the same. It doesn’t mean condoning an action or staying in a difficult situation or even forgetting the situation. It means we release all expectation of of getting paid back or getting even. We let God deal with judgement.

When I was in high school I had a good friend play a prank on me. I’ve never liked pranks. I don’t find them funny. Her prank hurt me a lot, and even though she called and apologized that night, I was still very hurt. I started writing up a plan to play a prank on her, something similar to what she’d done to me. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go through with it, even though she’d hurt me a lot. I tore up the paper where I’d written up my plan, called her back and accepted her apology.

Forgiveness releases the person from me and turns the situation over to God. In forgiving others has He has forgiven us, we’re able to live in freedom.

 

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