Stephen M. Harris
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”
Rom 5: 19-21 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Eph 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”
Christiana Tsai, one of 20 siblings, was born to a Chinese ruling family during the Ming dynasty. She enjoyed a good education, personal servants, and an isolated life, almost never venturing outside the walls of her family’s palace. But Christiana’s father, despite Buddhist convictions, wanted Christiana to attend the Christian school run by missionaries from America. “Just be sure you don’t eat Christianity!” He didn’t want his children converting to this foreign religion.
At boarding school, however, Christiana heard the Gospel and was drawn to Jesus Christ. Her conversion shocked her family. A servant was dispatched to bring her home. On the boat he gave her a rope and a knife. “You have disgraced your family by eating the Christian religion,” he told her, warning that if she did not renounce her faith, she would have to “choose between this rope to hang yourself, this knife to stab yourself, or this canal to drown yourself.”
The girl, however, bore the wrath of her family who treated her like a dog, even tearing to pieces her Bible and hymnbook. She was threatened, punished, rejected, ridiculed, and treated with contempt by the servants. “But,” Christiana later wrote, “I did not argue; I only prayed for wisdom, and God gave me grace.”
One day her brother said to her, “Tell me about Christianity and why you became a Christian.” When Christiana told him, he replied, “That was a remarkable experience. I have noticed that in spite of the way we treat you now, you seem much happier than you used to be. I think I would like to believe too.” Christiana had received the grace of Christ in her own life and so in return, it was her gracious spirit that in the course of time drew around 55 of her relatives to a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I have come to understand that unfortunately, not every Grace Receiver is a Grace Giver. Have you ever talked to a person who works Sundays at a popular restaurant? Almost universally, they claim that the “church crowd” is the most difficult and demanding group they serve, and they leave the smallest tips. I have often wondered why we so frequently fail to dispense the same grace shown to us? Sometimes we’re disgusted by the actions of unbelievers and we get riled up with a righteous indignation. Other times we’re afraid of being taken advantage of. Sometimes we just aren’t sure how and when to extend grace. And then, of course, sometimes we’re just out of sorts. We must remember that a bitter spirit is like a spoonful of acid in your stomach that slowly eats away at your vital organs. The Bible warns us against falling “short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).
How can we become a Grace Giver to others?
#1) STUDY JESUS
The most important thing is to study Jesus and learn from His example. This is the underlying theme of the book of 1 Peter, which repeatedly tells us to respond to persecution and personal attacks as Jesus did; with grace, dignity, and quiet forgiveness.
“To this, you were called,” wrote Peter, “because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, he did not threaten, but committed Himself to him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2: 21-23).
If your attitude is sharp and demanding, try reading through 1 Peter. It’s only 5 chapters, and study what Peter says about Jesus. How different, for example, would your attitude be if you seriously memorized and modeled 1 Peter 3:8-9? “All of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”
It is hard to remold a piece of clay that’s been hardened; sometimes we feel that our personalities and attitudes are already “set,” that we’re “just the way we are.” But the Christian is always being molded, under construction, and capable of improving. You can become a conveyor of His grace to others if you begin by keeping your eyes on Him, studying His life and determining to become more and more like Jesus. Blind, elderly, Fanny Crosby, who so forgave the doctor who ruined her vision, actually thanked God for her blindness and wrote a little prayer saying, “I am praying, Blessed Savior, to be more and more like Thee. I am praying that Thy Spirit like a dove may rest on me.”
#2) DELIBERATELY FORGIVE
We must deliberately forgive those who have sinned against us. Jesus once told a story of a servant who owed an enormous sum to his master. It was impossible for him to pay it, so the master graciously forgave the debt. But the debtor, freed from his obligation, found the man who owed him a small sum and threw him into debtor’s prison for failing to repay the loan. When the master heard of it, he recalled his servant and said, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that yet, because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” The master threw his servant to the torturers. Then Jesus used these stark words: “so my heavenly Father also will do to you, if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses” (Matthew 18:21-35).
#3) PRACTICE EMPATHY
One of the most helpful techniques in forgiving others involves empathy, pausing long enough to look at others through the lens of their own experience. A popular writer, F. W. Boreham, once lost patience with a difficult man named Crittingden, who spoke many critical words. Boreham wrote a flaming letter designed to rebuke the complainer. He walked to the mailbox to post the letter. It was a lovely night for a walk, and he passed the mailbox without dropping the letter and thinking he’d mail it on the way back. Further on, he met a friend who said, “Poor old Crittingden is dead.” Boreham was shocked. “Is he, indeed? When did this happen?” “Oh, he died suddenly early this afternoon. It’s really for the best, you know. He’s had a hard time. You know all about it, I suppose?” “No, I don’t.” “Oh, I thought everybody knew. He only had two children, a son and a daughter. His son was killed, soon after his wife died, and the daughter lost her mind and is in the asylum. Poor old Crittingden never did get over it. It soured him.”
Boreham returned to his fireside that night, humbled and ashamed. He tore the letter into small fragments and burned them one by one. And as he knelt before the blaze, he prayed that he, in days to come, might find the grace to deal gently and lovingly with difficult people, even as he wished that they might have the grace to treat him.
When we fully understand the amazing goodness of God’s grace, we become Grace Givers. And that’s just what the world is looking for. Let’s make up our minds to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).
The above article, “Are You a Grace Giver?” was written by Stephen M. Harris. The article was excerpted from The Beacon Magazine Vol. 2 Iss. 4 pages 1-2.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.