Several months ago I went out to lunch with a friend of mine to a tasty Mexican restaurant.
As we sat there talking and eating chips and salsa I had the thought that I should pay for his lunch. He had enough money to buy his own and he wasn’t expecting me to buy his, but I’ve had my lunch bought dozens of times by others and I wanted to “pay it forward.” So I decided I would buy, but I didn’t tell him. When the checks came at the end of lunch I was going to just pick up both checks and pay. You know, the smooth way.
Shortly after deciding I was going to buy, the waitress came to take our orders. I ordered some cheap lunch special. But my friend didn’t. He ordered one of the most expensive combination platters on the entire menu. Then I went in to “have-a-conversation-with-yourself-mode.”
It went something like this:
“I can’t believe it! Here I was about to be nice and generous to this guy and he goes and orders that!? Oh well. He can kiss his free lunch goodbye. I can’t pay for his now. It’s going to cost me way more than I had planned on spending. Good thing I never told him I was paying. He can just pay this time. Maybe next time I’ll buy his if he stays within a reasonable price range.”
After having the very normal, silent conversation with myself I immediately had a new thought—“I don’t like myself right now.”
Because my heart had just been fully exposed.
In that moment I was full of pride.
In that moment I was extremely selfish.
In that moment I loved my money more than my friend.
While pride, selfishness and greed are enough to make you feel bad about yourself, I realized there was a deeper issue.
In that moment I had forgotten grace.
It’s at the center of the heart of God. It’s what separates Christianity from all other world religions. It’s beautiful to those who need it and offensive to those who don’t. It exposes the self-righteous and makes them mad. It’s living water to the broken sinner and makes them glad.
When we make a mistake in life we want it. It’s so easy to receive.
But when others make a mistake we don’t want to give it. It’s difficult to give away.
Grace is getting something good that you don’t deserve. It’s unearned by the one receiving it. And unconditional by the one giving it.
Jesus is the embodiment of grace. “While we all were still sinners He died for us.” Jesus didn’t wait to see how much we were going to sin and then decide if he would pay for it. He knew how much it was going to cost him and didn’t turn away. Even though we didn’t deserve it, he died in our place. That’s true love. That’s grace.
Maybe more than anything else, followers of Jesus should be known for showing people grace because we ourselves have been shown an immeasurable amount of it.
Currently I have a losing record showing it. I struggle at it. But I want to get better. I have a feeling you do too.
So the next time you’re cut off in line.
The next time somebody says something to hurt you.
The next time a waitress gets your order wrong.
Or the next time you have an opportunity to buy someone’s lunch…show grace.
And when you struggle to show it, remind yourself again of the immeasurable grace Jesus has shown you. And then show grace again. And again. And again.
It’s going to cost you. (Maybe even the price of a couple tacos).
And the other person won’t deserve it.
But that’s just fine.
That’s what grace is all about.
Do you struggle showing people grace?
Pic credit Here