I was in a spunky mood that day and thought I’d share a message on Facebook about an article I had just read and add my own little spice to it. It wasn’t long after I published the remark that I got a text from a friend saying she was offended by it.
A few days prior I was with a group of friends who were remarking about a new clothing store opening up in our city, one of whom got a fabulous job there and everyone was sharing in her excitement. Though I couldn’t empathize about the store’s great products, I genuinely joined in the excitement for her.
The first message I received from my friend was a teasing text in return (the reaction I had both expected and hoped for), but the next one came as a gentle nudge that it may have stung a little deeper than a simple prick on the skin.
I realized in that moment that what I intended as a joke, hurt one of my friends.
I began to backpeddle. The message of the article I was reposting was about good character and “womanhood” and my snarky comment was certainly in good fun, but I realized in that moment that what I intended as a joke, hurt one of my friends. She admitted that she may have been over sensitive about the whole thing, but the fact that she felt that way made me think she may not have been the only one.
I immediately hopped online, deleted the post, and realized that because she knew me, she knew I was teasing but she was still hurt by it, who else could’ve seen that post who doesn’t really “know” me and may have also been hurt?
Though it may come as a surprise to many of you, Christian women do make mistakes
on occasion daily. Even though many of us seek the Lord every day, hold fast to praying regularly, attend small groups or even accountability groups and are involved in other ministries, we all are human and we all will fail our people and our God, everyday – even on our best days.
We all are human and we all will fail our people and our God, everyday – even on our best days.
Unfortunately, it seems like those of us inside the Church tend to be the ones who cast the first stones. We’ve all seen Christians seek to gossip, slander, and hold grudges towards those who have hurt them, all the while becoming more and more embittered and far from the truth. Just as in the cases of our own personal thought life, the lies that we continue to feed on only stray us further from the reality of the Gospel, so too, will stewing on isolated moments of someone’s actions distort the whole picture.
What would it look like for us to act as my friend did and send an immediate message to the offender, not only giving them knowledge of their mistake, but giving them a chance to repent and ask for forgiveness? I’m so grateful for her immediate actions to come to me rather than to harbor bitterness and hurt, that only (always) further complicates and divides the strong sisterhood that continues to rise up around us.
Because of her generous gift of grace to me that day, it has stuck with me for months after. I’ve thought about her response and reflected on my own moments of hurt. Did I immediately go to the source of hurt to clear things up? Did I stay quiet and let things brew and fester? Did I speak poorly to others, acting out of my unresolved hurt? Did I harbor bitterness and resentment?
Then I remembered Jesus. In Romans, the Apostle Paul remarks about the overwhelming and incomprehensible love of God saying that even in spite of our sin, knowing we would cause immense pain and hurt, God sent Christ anyways, on our behalf, to be punished for the things only we should’ve been punished for. (Romans 5:8) Oh, how sweet the amazing grace! The unmerited favor that Someone would look at us in all of our sin, receive all of the pain we would’ve received, and suffer the worst punishment of all – the very separation from God – so we would not have to.
And He asks us to love each other the way that He loves us, honoring each other better than ourselves, and calls us to give that grace freely away, as we have been given freely.
And He asks us to love each other the way that He loves us (John 13:34-35), honoring each other better than ourselves (Romans 12:10), and calls us to give that grace freely away, as we have been given freely.
Is that how you respond when wronged? This may seem like a petty lesson, but the point is crucial; if we miss this and John 13:35 is true, how will others know we’re any different than the world?
I am grateful that my friend continues to see me as a whole picture, not in isolated incidents. She knows my heart and my character enough to know I made a mistake. My actions that day were not indicative of my character, but of the sin nature inside of me and she chose to give grace because of that big picture. That doesn’t mean that what I did was right, or that it didn’t warrant an apology, in fact in most cases it is the exact opposite! Sometimes giving grace does not mean avoiding confrontation if one has been wronged. Sometimes giving grace means graciously and humbly approaching the offender to make them aware of their offense, covering them in love, mercy, and forgiveness whether they ask for it or not, and seeking to see that person in light of the cross and what has been done on their, and our behalf.
Are you withholding grace from someone because you are harboring bitterness or resentment?
Is there someone in your life you are viewing in isolated incidents instead of seeing them in the big picture? Your friend, neighbor, kids, spouse? Are you withholding grace from someone because you are harboring bitterness or resentment?
Though it may be hard to accept, you may be an offender in need of some grace. Do you need to approach someone and ask for forgiveness? What wrongs do you need to make right again?
Friends, my prayer for us is that we continually remember the magnitude of grace given to us, and live giving that same measure of grace away to others.
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Image Credit: Max Khokhlov, Creative Commons