Almost every year I claim a word for the year. Some years I choose a word that I desperately need or want to be the underlying theme for the new year and some years the word finds me. For 2019, the latter happened. Back in October I started hearing and seeing the word “grace” EVERYWHERE. By the end of November I was actually praying for God to give me a different word because, well, the thought of giving grace in every situation for an entire year kind of scares the crap out of me.
Several years ago I did one of those spiritual gifts inventory tests and guess what I learned… I have NO mercy gift. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE forgiveness. Heck, I’ve written and taught about the subject. I forgive quickly and let go of things quickly. I forgive because I’ve been forgiven and because I know that unforgiveness is toxic. But… forgiveness and grace and mercy are not the same.
The choice to forgive is simply the act of letting go. It doesn’t mean that you grant favor or honor. It just means that you let go of an offense. Forgiveness can often look more like being paroled for a crime. With forgiveness there are often still expected consequences and the person you’re forgiving often still carries the label of whatever they’ve done to offend you.
But grace… sweet, amazing grace… it’s a pardon. No labels to wear. Unmerited favor. Honor granted. Freedom.
grace – noun
- the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
- the influence or spirit of God operating in humans to regenerate or strengthen them.
- a virtue or excellence of divine origin:
So… why does the word scare me? Because I know that having it as the underlying theme for the coming year means that I’m going to have to give and receive it. It means that I’m going to have to approach every situation I face this coming year with the same favor and love that God has given me. And I’m human. Giving the kind of love and favor that God has given (and continues to give) me isn’t so easy.
2 Corinthians 12:9TPT But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me.”
Here’s to a year of grace… God, please help me not to need it or need to give it too much.