Practicing Grace

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on the subject of grace lately.

My thoughts have generally focused on the lack of it. As I look at the Church, I find a strange absence of grace among believers. Look at the in-fighting within church walls. Look at the arguments between denominations. Look at the grasp for power between conservatives and liberals. Look at the relationships between believers. Look at the relationships between believers and non-believers. What is missing? Too often, it is grace.

It’s my considered opinion that, for those of us who have received God’s grace, we should take it beyond experience and put it into practice.

What would our world look like if God’s “amazing grace” was lived out by His people? What would it look like if believers chose to respond with grace rather than judgment? How would our lives, our churches, and our world be different if we would respond in an attitude and manner of grace towards those who have wronged us with their words or actions?

Grace is a pretty incredible thing…And, I’m pretty sure it’s not meant to stop once we receive it. Once we receive grace, we should respond by living lives of grace.

While pondering the practice of grace, I stumbled across a writing of Mike Yaconelli’s on the subject. He writes:

Grace is outrageously unfair, ridiculously extravagant, and unashamedly the center of the gospel, and it sure beats judgmentalism, legalism, and all the other isms. Grace always gives second chances, third chances, and never stops giving chances. Grace has Jesus written all over it. Grace makes people nervous, because they are always so worried someone is going to take advantage of it. But that’s what we like about grace. You can take advantage of it. But here’s the really interesting part – grace doesn’t just let everyone in. Anyone, yes, but not everyone. And the Grace of God frequently includes the unexpected. So…who’s in and who’s not? Only God knows, and that’s fine with us.

How will you live out a life of grace?

Humble Offerings

This morning, I stumbled upon a passage of Scripture that caused me to reflect on how I give of my time, talents, and treasures.  The passage comes from Matthew 6:2-4.  The Message paraphrase puts it this way,

When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—’playactors’ I call them— treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Living in a world that tends to place too much importance on status and recognition, this passage of Scripture should cause us to re-think how we give.

I once served a church where a member went out of his way to make sure the senior pastor knew he was in church and giving his “tithe”. How did he do this? Well, instead of putting his envelope in the offering plate, he handed it directly to the senior pastor. This wasn’t just an occasional “oh, I forgot to put this in the plate” sort of thing. This was an “every time the guy was a church” sort of thing. And why? My guess is because he longed for the pastor to recognize him and say, “thank you”.

We live in a world where people shell out serious cash to have their names placed on a stadium, arena, or building of higher education. It used to be that the naming of a building was to honor a person…now the naming of a building goes to the highest bidder. And why? For the recognition? For the status that comes with having a building with your name on it?

This passage tells us to forget about the recognition. This passage tells us to forget about the status. This passage tells us to give…simply to give. This passage tells us to give…when no one is watching. This passage tells us to give…and not draw attention to ourselves.

And, this is difficult…because I know for myself that when I do something for someone in need, I want to tell others and pat myself on the back…I want people to say, “wow, how selfless!” But, that is not what giving is about. Giving is about responding to the needs of those around us in practical and tangible ways without expecting anything in return.

So, the challenge is to look for opportunities to give…when no one is looking…with no expectations of a “thank you” or other recognition…with no strings attached…simply to give when you see a need…to give because that is what we’re called to do.


This morning, while reading through Proverbs 8, I found out that Wisdom is really Lucy from Peanuts.

Do you hear Lady Wisdom calling? Can you hear Madame Insight raising her voice? She’s taken her stand at First and Main, at the busiest intersection. Right in the city square where the traffic is thickest, she shouts, “You-  I’m talking to all of you, everyone out here on the streets! Listen, you idiots – learn good sense! You blockheads – shape up! Don’t miss a word of this – I’m telling you how to live well, I’m telling you how to live at your best. My mouth chews and savors and relishes truth – I can’t stand the taste of evil! You’ll only hear true and right words from my mouth; not one syllable will be twisted or skewed. You’ll recognize this as true – you with open minds; truth-ready minds will see it at once. Prefer my life disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career. For Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth; nothing you could wish for holds a candle to her.” ~Proverbs 8:1-11