From: The Grace Awakening
We use grace to describe many things in life:
- A well-coordinated athlete or dancer
- Good manners and being considerate of others
- Beautiful, well-chosen words
- Consideration and care for other people
- Various expressions of kindness and mercy
Those statements remind me of Christ. What a perfect illustration of grace! Think of several examples with me. He stood alongside a woman caught in adultery. The Law clearly stated, “Stone her.” The grace killers who set her up demanded the same. Yet Christ said to those self-righteous Pharisees, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” What grace! Under the Law they had every legal right to bury her beneath the rocks in their hands – and they were ready. There they stood with self-righteous fire in their eyes, but he intervened in grace.
When his friend Lazarus died, Martha met him on the road and Mary later faced him in the house. Both blamed him for not coming earlier: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!” (John 11:21) There is strong accusation in those words. He took them in grace. With the turn of his hand, he could have sent them to eternity; but he refused to answer them back in argument. That is grace.
When he told stories, grace was a favorite theme. He employed a gracious style in handling children. He spoke of the prodigal son in grace. As he told stories of people who were caught in helpless situations, grace abounded – as with the Good Samaritan. And instead of extolling the religious official who spoke of how proud God must be to have him in his family, Christ smiled with favor on the unnamed sinner who said, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Even from the cross he refused to be angry with his enemies. Remember his prayer? “Father, forgive them.” No resentment. No bitterness. Amazing, this grace! Remarkable, the freedom and release it brought. And it came in full force from the only One on Earth who had unlimited power, the Son of God.
My plea is that we not limit it to him. We, too, can learn to be just as gracious as he. And since we can, we must – not only in our words and in great acts of compassion and understanding but in small ways as well.
Sir Edward C. Burne-Jones, the prominent nineteenth-century English artist, went to tea at the home of his daughter. As a special treat his young granddaughter was allowed to come to the table. She misbehaved, and her mother made her stand in the corner with her face to the wall. Sir Edward, a well-trained grandfather, did not interfere with his grandchild’s training, but the next morning he arrived at his daughter’s home with paints and palette. He went to the wall where the little girl had been forced to stand, and there he painted pictures – a kitten chasing its tail, lambs in a field, goldfish swimming. He decorated the wall on both sides of that corner with paintings for his granddaughter’s delight. If she had to stand in the corner again, at least she would have something to look at. And so it is with our Lord. When we do the things we should not, he may administer discipline, sometimes quite severely, but he never turns his back. He doesn’t send his child to hell! Neither do we fall from grace and get slammed behind the iron bars of the Law. He deals with his own in grace – beautiful, charming, unmerited favor. It is really amazing!
There will always be some – as those who glared at the woman taken in adultery – who will urge us to be stern, rigid, and cold-hearted. Yes, there are always a few who prefer stoning to forgiving, who will vote for judgment rather than tolerance. But my hope is that we might join the swelling ranks of those who decide that Christlike grace (with all its risks) is so much more effective, we opt for it every time. God honors such an attitude.