Getting an unexpected gift always puts a smile on my face. It’s amazing to me that someone else would take the time out of their schedule and devote it to me, which is why I want to thank all of you for reading these posts, even if you only read occasionally.
Peter talks about gifts as a responsibility. What we have received in grace, we also ought to give to others just as freely. It’s like the old hymn, “freely, freely you have received; freely, freely give.” Grace is something you can never run out of, so you can freely give it to others.
One of the hardest lessons I have to learn is that God watches how well we forgive. “For if you do not forgive others their trespasses, your God will not forgive you.” Ouch! This follows the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. God takes this subject seriously. And I think He knows better than we do the power resentment has over our lives, when we hold grudges long after their expiration date. An unforgiving heart is an evil heart, especially when it belongs to a Christian.
Grace is like a river. It flows to you, but it must also flow away from you to others. You cannot hoard it for yourself, because you have no dam strong enough to contain it. If you cannot extend grace to others, it will destroy whatever hoard you have created for yourself. No one likes bitterness. No one likes a bitter Christian.
As I’ve been going through Acts, I find Paul as someone with every right to be disenchanted by his own upbringing, people he thought he could trust, his fellow Jews, men he probably grew up with and trained with, turning on him and calling for his death. Paul has every right to be angry with them. But you never see Paul angry. He fears for his life, but he is never angry with them, continuing to call them brothers, wishing even his own life forfeit for their salvation. He extended the profound grace he’d been given to others. Wow.
My encouragement to you this morning is to first consider how much you have been forgiven by God. And then consider the sins of others against you. Remember how much you have been forgiven, that wonderful free gift of grace, and extend that gift to others.