To give grace or not to give grace? That is the question. And I am not talking about whether or not you should pray at a restaurant in public. I am referring to Jesus’ example to serve others through sacrificing ourselves. “But Sheryl,” you might say, “we don’t have a choice about giving grace or not. The Bible says we have to give grace.” Okay, yes, you are right; God wants us to give grace. However, the “grace choice” is not a natural response. Ever been cut off in traffic? Responding in the spirit, we can ask for God’s help and choose not to honk the horn or shake our fist or even run the other driver off the road. We can choose to pray a blessing for the person (they sure need it); this act of serving them and loving God helps to keep our raw emotions in check and blood pressure under control. We might even avoid causing a car accident or committing murder.
“By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.” —1 Corinthians 3:10
In His ultimate act of service, Jesus showed us how to love others through the example of foot washing found in John 13:12–16, “When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me Teacher and Lord and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you should also wash one another’s feet. . . . Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” Why would Jesus do this? So glad you asked.
One commentary says, “On the last evening of His life, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-16). Their pride, heightened by the anticipations of place in the Messianic kingdom whose crisis they immediately expected, prevented their doing this service for each other. Possibly the same pride had expressed itself on this same evening in a controversy about places at table. Jesus, conscious of His divine dignity and against Peter’s protest, performed for them this lowliest service. His act of humility actually cleansed their hearts of selfish ambition, killed their pride, and taught them the lesson of love.
To give grace or not to give grace? That is the question. Maybe Jesus even wondered, “Really, God, serve them? You’ve got to be kidding. Oh, so you are serious. Okay, Father, I need your help.” Then Jesus proceeded to exhibit his greatest act of love to his disciples. Now you and I are compelled to follow this beautiful example of Jesus and as we rely on his strength to serve Him obediently.
It’s a matter of the daily choice to go to Jesus and ask Him what He wants from us. He says, “Will you trust me?” God has many gifts for us, gifts of grace. The only way we can access these gifts is to walk with Him, trusting Him. When we say yes to the “grace choice,” we allow Him to take care of the details. He showers the grace gifts after we get done with our acts of service.
“Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.” —John 1:16
In 2009, my first husband was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident. I’ve had lots of fears: fear of the future, fear of change, fear of adjustment. I liked things the way they were, yet I know they won’t ever be the same again. God has given me grace in my time of need. Jesus asked me to lay down all of my plans, ideas, ministries at His feet. And so I did. What about you? Wonder how you will spend your life, time, ministry? Allow God’s grace to enter in to direct your path and pave the way. I loved studying the book of James in Beth Moore’s study Mercy Triumphs. Beth uses four little power packed words: “He gives more grace.” They have stuck with me. To give grace or not to give grace? That is the question. Do you need grace? Do you need to give grace? Ask God for more. He will always give more grace.
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” —Acts 20:24