The other day I was thinking, "I'm pretty sure I need Jesus more than anyone I know". I don't really remember what line of thought got me there, but no normal reasoning could get me out of it. I had said something I couldn't believe I'd said or maybe I'd upset someone or SOMETHING, I'm not sure - but I just couldn't think of another human who was more in need of God's grace or help to be found righteous as me.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized, I almost kind of think that's where we should all be, all the time. Because we're in our own heads and we hear the full extent of our own sinful thoughts and know the wholeness of the grossness in our hearts - we know exactly how much we need Him. And isn't it a precarious situation to look at anyone else and think "Woosh - they sure need God's grace, probably more than even I do."
In that moment, I applied the truth of the gospel to myself and remembered that even though the bad news was that I DO in fact, constantly need Jesus, and DO in fact mess up almost constantly, there is Good News. That news is that Jesus died so that I could be in right stand with God and also grow in righteousness, so that I learn to screw up less, or at the very least, in different ways. And while my heart was straight up filled with joy to remember "GRACE!", I wondered how that should affect the way I love the people around me when they need forgiveness and grace too.
I'm all about being honest and confronting issues when there is a need. My husband, my family, my friends - they'll be the first to tell you, I'm not scared of conflict and I'd always rather talk about something as opposed to stuff it. I think there is a time and a place to go to people who are hurting you or others and say, "I love you. This is hurting me. Please stop." BUT - what about those other times? What if someone you love knows they have an issue with something and you know they genuinely want to grow in it, but it's just taking time? What about those seasons where you feel like the Lord is calling you to be quiet and let His voice do the talking to them? What about when the thing they're doing isn't necessarily wildly wrong, but it's just not the wisest, best choice or even the choice you'd make?
I'm practicing something new this week and I'm trying to apply that joy-filled feeling I have when I receive grace from God and heaping it on others when it's not the time to talk it out. So-and-so lets me down by not showing up when I really hoped they would? SLAP A SMILE ON MY FACE AND CHOOSE TO GIVE THEM GRACE. My husband frustrates me because he makes silly jokes that mean no harm but still annoy me? LAUGH ALONG AND GIVE HIM GRACE. Feel hurt by some habitual sin in a friend's life that I know they are working on, but still affects me? REMEMBER HOW FREE AND DELIGHTED I FEEL TO SOAK UP GOD'S GRACE AND THROW IT ON THEM TOO.
And what I'm finding? Extending forgiveness and love produces some deep and abounding joy in me. It's so, so, so very different than pretending that something didn't happen and it's not about holding small things against them and counting all their faults until I eventually explode in anger. It's about immediately remembering where I sit at the foot of the cross of Christ - found guilty and then justified by grace through faith. And when I sit here, getting what I don't deserve, can I seriously try to put them behind me or lower than me, saying that they don't get the freedom found in Jesus that I do?
There's a time and a place to talk it out and I think the best thing we can do is ask the Father for discernment. But when He tells us, "You know what? I got this one. You just love them in spite of this sin.", I want to soak up the joy that comes from giving the people I love the very thing that I am so desperate for myself.
Because it feels good to give grace.