THE GIFT OF GRACE
What is “grace” besides the prayer often offered before a meal? Grace is a gift, and it often looks different depending on who is giving the gift.
Have you heard the story of a man who fell down some icy steps? While he may not have been too graceful as he slipped and tumbled, he says the ‘gift of grace’ looked completely different in each person who came to his rescue. The first person helped him to his feet, examined where it hurt, took him inside, and put an ice bag on the injury. This person had the grace gift of mercy. A second person asked him why he hadn’t properly poured salt on the icy steps beforehand. This person had the grace gift of exhortation. Still, a third person showed the man how to properly hold on to the handrail and slowly work his way up each step, little by little. This person had the grace gift of teaching. Three different people, three different expressions of the same grace gift.
“But to each one of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:7, NIV).
“But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.” (Ephesians 4:7, MSG).
Grace. We are given a second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance, and as many “do-overs” as we need to fully accept all the love God has for us. Golfers call them mulligans. An opportunity to say the past poor shot never happened. It doesn’t count. It doesn’t negatively impact the score, but a new, improved shot in its place, can help win the game.
Some have suggested that no single man sums up the definition of grace like the man behind the song Amazing Grace. Do you know John Newton’s story? He was a slave trader and the captain of a ship in the mid-1700s that regularly traveled the Triangle Trade Route. Beginning with an empty cargo hold in England, he would travel to Africa and pack over 600 units of “human cargo” — slaves — onto the ship. He would then sail to America and deliver his cargo in exchange for money and goods made in America that were needed in England, the final leg of his trip. From his home in England, he would rest for a short season and start all over again. He met Christ during a terrible tempest aboard his vessel. He ultimately left the seaman’s life and studied for the ministry.
Near the end of his life, he was pastor at Saint Peter and Paul Church of England in Olney Parish. At age 82, Newton said,
“My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior.” He is buried in the cemetery there. On his tombstone, we read these words: John Newton, Clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.
Amazing Grace! What a gift! I want to be preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed, don’t you? May you be a recipient and a giver of this gift of grace today.
Father God, thank you for the gift of grace. Thank you for the chance to start over again, no matter how often. I can receive your love, new and fresh day after day after day. Thank you. As you have given me grace, help me to be quick to offer it to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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