Al Masters lives in the eastern part of Pennsylvania. He is married and he had a little boy and a small business. He considered himself very blessed. And then, just before Christmas, quite some years ago, his little boy was killed by a 15 year old driving without a license. Al Masters was filled with a deep desire for revenge. Even though that youngster could not be brought before the full power of the law because he was a juvenile, Al wanted the book thrown at him.
Then, on Christmas Eve, his wife got him to
go to church. He listened to the story of the word
that came to the shepherds. He learned about the Savior. He recognized that he was a sinner who needed God’s grace. He needed forgiveness; he needed a Savior.
He began to weep.
When he left church he set out to find out more about the boy who killed his son. He discovered that he came from a broken home. His mother was a hopeless alcoholic. Al Masters went and met the boy. Then an incredible and unbelievable thing occurred. Al gave the boy a job in his own shop. Later he took him into his own home to live! He gave the boy what he didn’t
deserve. That’s grace.
Grace is something that God freely lavishes on us. He gives us, through Christ, things we don’t deserve and can never earn. He bestows His favor upon us by forgiving us of our sins. He freely gives us His love and acceptance. He indwells us through His Holy Spirit, establishing a personal relationship with us.We become the recipients of new life in Christ and we are given eternal life. Blessings unnumbered and unparalleled. God gave us grace and He expects us to pass that grace on to others. We are to be
grace-givers. It certainly wasn’t easy for Al Masters but with the help of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit he was able to do just that. Our text for this morning describes those who pass grace on to others.
Romans 12 commands us to “LOVE OTHERS SINCERELY. BE DEVOTED TO ONE ANOTHER IN BROTHERLY LOVE.HONOR ONE ANOTHER ABOVE YOURSELVES.SHARE WITH GOD’S PEOPLE WHO ARE IN NEED.PRACTICE HOSPITALITY.BLESS THOSE WHO PERSECUTE YOU, BLESS AND DO NOT CURSE.REJOICE WITH THOSE WHO REJOICE, MOURN WITH THOSE WHO MOURN. DO NOT REPAY EVIL FOR EVIL.DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD.”To obey these commands is
to be a grace-giver. Grace-givers live out these words.
Admittedly, it isn’t always easy to do these things.
It is so much easier to nullify rather than magnify the grace of God. How can we give love, forgiveness, kindness, hope, friendship and blessing to those around us especially when we don’t think they deserve such? What can we do to more fully live out the words of this text? How can we who have received amazing grace from God not turn around and pass grace on to others? In his book, The Grace Awakening, Chuck Swindoll tells why so many fall so short when it comes to grace-giving. It is because of the strong human tendency to compare ourselves with others.
Most believers are very uneasy with differences. Differences create insecurity and they keep us from giving grace to others who are different from us.
Regarding this Swindoll writes, “We prefer sameness. If someone thinks differently or makes different choices than we do, wears different clothing, has different tastes or opinions or enjoys a different
style of life, most Christians get nervous. We place far too much weight on externals and the importance of appearances and not nearly enough on individuality and
variety. We are all different and God works in our
lives in different ways. We have ‘acceptable norms’ in which we are able to move freely and allow others the freedom to do so. But heaven help the poor soul who steps beyond those bounds!” The resulting negative
comparison keeps us from being grace-givers. It
prompts the tendency to judge and when we are judging we are not grace-givers. Comparison also makes us prejudiced people and prejudice robs us of the ability to dispense grace.Without question, comparison nullifies grace.
If we are to be grace-givers and not fall into the trap of negative comparisons, we must remember that it was never God’s intention that all His children look and act alike.“Look at the natural world God created.
What variety! The buzzard and the butterfly…..the dog and the deer…..the zinnia and the orchid………the wriggling minnow and the sleek shark. The Bible wasn’t written to change us into cookie cutter Christians.”
Swindoll reminds us that the church has not been
designed to turn out mass produced reproductions.“On the contrary, the folk in Scripture are as different as Rahab and Esther, one a former woman of ill repute and the other a queen.They are as unusual as Amos and
Stephen, a fig-picker turned prophet and a deacon who became a martyr. Before we are able to demonstrate God’s grace as we should, we have to rid ourselves of the legalistic tendency to compare. That is why we are
warned in 2 Corinthians 10:12 not to be involved in this harmful practice of comparing. God has made
each one of us as we are. He is hard at work shaping us into the image He has in mind. The only pattern he has for our character is His Son."
Enough about things that nullify grace. What we need to do the most is to give grace, magnify it, promote it and release it to those around us. To give grace is to give forgiveness, acceptance, love, help, you name it. To give grace is to minister to those who are hurting or in need. It is to serve others. It is grace when it is given to those who do not deserve it and
cannot earn it. As believers God has called us to be grace-givers. Grace-giving is an exciting and powerful ministry. It has a wonderful impact in our lives as well as in the lives of those to whom we extend grace.
It changes our lives, the lives of others and it furthers the Kingdom of God.
Grace-givers serve. We dispense grace when we minister and serve one another.This truth is stressed in many places throughout Scripture.In Ephesians 3:2 the apostle Paul speaks of the “ADMINISTRATION OF GOD’S GRACE THAT WAS GIVEN TO ME…..” He is saying that he was given responsibility for the “administration” of grace. Writing in his commentary on Ephesians Dr. Klyne
Snodgrass says, “Whereas we usually limit grace to God’s gift of salvation, this text forces us to realize that grace is also the gift of ministry. The gift always comes as a task. Grace brings responsibility; it never is merely privilege. Paul, therefore, viewed himself as a manager of grace. All Christians are to be managers of grace. All who have
received grace should extend it to others.”
1 Peter 4:10 commands us saying, “EACH ONE SHOULD USE WHATEVER GIFT HE HAS RECEIVED TO SERVE OTHERS, FAITHFULLY ADMINISTERING GOD’S GRACE IN ITS VARIOUS FORMS.” We administer grace when we serve others.
Grace-givers minister.“Grace comes to us as a gift, but it enlists us and empowers us.We become stewards of grace, responsible for showing others how it works.
Like all gifts from God, it is directed out to other people. Grace engages us, calls us, pushes us, develops us and gives us a ministry. Ministry is the gift of God’s power at work in us for managing grace.”
“This changes our view of ministry. Implicitly we think of ministry as our gift to God. The apostle Paul thought of ministry as God’s gift to him.” Ministry is a privilege. As 1 Corinthians 3:9 makes clear, ‘WE ARE GOD’S CO-LABORERS.” He is depending upon us to do His work in this hurting, needy, sinful world.“When we take that seriously, it changes our perspective. Ministry is not drudgery to be endured or something for which God owes us. Rather ministry originates in
and is the expression of God’s grace.Ministry is the free flow of grace from God through us to other people.”
In his book What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancy tells about a man by the name of Peter Greave who wrote a memoir of his life with leprosy. “Half-blind and partially paralyzed he went to live on a compound run by some Anglican sisters. Unable to work, an outcast from society, he turned bitter. He thought of suicide. He made elaborate plans to escape the compound, but always backed out because he had nowhere to go. One morning, uncharacteristically, he got up early and strolled the grounds. Hearing a buzzing noise, he followed it to the chapel, where the sisters were praying for the patients whose names were written on its walls. Among the names, he found his own. Somehow that experience of connection, of linking, changed the course of his life. He felt wanted. He felt graced." All because some Anglican sisters cared enough to serve and minister, to do the work of the Lord. Grace-givers minister; they reach out to others.
There is another powerful way in which we can “administer grace” and that is by offering forgiveness to each other. In teaching us how to pray the Lord has instructed us to daily seek forgiveness from God for our sins and also to offer forgiveness to those who sin against us. In receiving forgiveness from God we are recipients of His grace; in offering forgiveness to others we become grace-givers. Offering grace to others in the form of forgiveness is powerful and life-changing. There are three ways to handle the anger, bitterness and resentment that result when we have been offended and hurt. “Deny it, express it or forgive the person who caused it. Denial doesn’t work.
That’s just burying your anger, resentment and bitterness and they rarely stay buried.” Such an action leads to all kinds of emotional, physical and spiritual problems. Expressing anger, while it seems helpful can actually be equally harmful if it is not expressed in a proper way and at a proper time.That is not always easy to do.“When we express our anger and bitterness we risk detonating a hidden arsenal of deadly explosives that can easily ruin friendships, wreck marriages and harm our children." Certainly there is a place for expressing our anger and bitterness if we can do it with discipline, self-control and love. But we must not keep repeating it over and over and over again.
The third and most effective way to handle our hurts is to practice forgiveness.That is why God commands us to “BEAR WITH EACH OTHER AND FORGIVE WHATEVER GRIEVANCES YOU MAY HAVE AGAINST ONE ANOTHER.FORGIVE AS THE LORD FORGAVE YOU.”(Colossians 3:13)It is the only way to unburden ourselves of destructive negative
emotions.Dr. Walter Alvarez says that there are many contributing factors tot he mental difficulties that we all experience at one time or another and in one degree or another. Of these contributing factors, resentment, is one of the most prevalent and damaging.
“A little grudge, a little grievance nursed, pondered and brooded over, can become a cancer in our minds. We can go to sleep at night thinking about it until it grows bigger and bigger and wrecks our health by spoiling our peace of mind." Giving grace by forgiving
others is, without a doubt, in our best interest. Forgiving others is but one of hundreds of ways in which we pass grace on to others.
Raisin in the Sun is a famous and powerful play that demonstrates the grace of forgiveness. In the play an African-American family inherits $10,000 from their father’s life insurance policy. The mother of the household sees in this legacy the chance to escape the
ghetto life of Harlem and move into a nice home in the countryside. The brilliant daughter sees in the money the chance to go to medical school.The older brother, however, has a plea that is difficult to ignore. He wants the money so that he and his “friend” can go into business.He promises that if he can just have the
money he will make more money and help everyone fulfill their dreams. Against her better judgment, the
mother gives in to the pleas of her son. The so called ‘friend” skips town with the money and the son has to return home with the bad news. His sister lashes out at him with a barrage of ugly words.Her contempt and hatred for her brother has no limits.
When she takes a breath in the midst of her tirade, the mother interrupts her and says, “I thought I taught you to love him.” The daughter answers, “Love him? There’s nothing left to love.”
Then with powerful and moving words, the mother responds. “There’s always something left to love.
Have you cried for him today? I don’t mean for yourself and our family because we lost all that
money.I mean for him: for what he’s been through and for what it has done to him. When do you think is the time to love somebody the most: when they have done good and made things easy for everybody? It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in himself because the world has whipped him. When you start measuring someone, make sure you take into account what hills and valleys he’s been through.”
That is forgiveness, compassion, understanding and unconditional love.That’s grace. It is given when it has not be earned and it is not deserved. (T.Campolo)
In our hardened, uncaring, selfish world there is a great need for such grace-givers. All around us there are those who are battered and wounded.People who need to be loved, forgiven or accepted daily cross our
paths.Some desperately need the benefit of an understanding heart.Others need a second or third or fourth or fifth chance. Everywhere we turn we encounter those who need to experience grace. Grace.
It uplifts. It encourages. It motivates. It transforms.
No wonder God expects us to pass His grace on.
“YOU ARE A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD….” declares 1 Peter 2:9.
- When Peter says we are a royal priesthood, he is saying we represent the God of grace.As believers we are expected to pass God’s grace on to others.The secret to being a grace-given is to keep always at the forefront of our minds God’s amazing grace in our lives. “In pondering the depth of God’s grace - His forgiveness, for instance, in our lives the depths of our forgiveness increases. The extent to which we can envision God’s forgiveness of us, to that same measure we will be given the capacity to forgive others.” remembering that we have been extended grace, that we
have been forgiven, accepted and loved unconditionally makes it easier for us to forgive, accept others and love them unconditionally. How much greater is God’s grace in our lives? Having received grace it is much easier to be a grace-giver. After all, who are we to withhold from others that which has been granted to us?
God gives us the privilege of passing on His grace to others. To whom can you extend God’s grace this week?