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Marvelous, Infinite, Matchless Grace: A Model for Loving Others

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,

Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured--

There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God's grace,

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,

Grace, grace, God's grace,

Grace that is greater than all our sin!

(Johnston and Towner, 1911)

God's grace is what brings us to the foot of the cross. It is this incredible act of love toward us that makes our sin remembered no more (Hebrews 10:17). The marvelous, infinite, matchless grace we receive the moment we believe is a gift from God the takes the weight of our sin completely away. This means we are clean from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). Every sin is wiped away. The sins of our past--gone! The guilt from our sin in the future--eliminated! The promise of no more sin in Heaven--certain! The promise of God to us is that His grace is greater than anything we could have done, have done, or will do in the future. It is so great that while we will inevitably still struggle against our sinful nature, He is greater and will extend is perfect grace to us. I am thankful to have received this infinite grace promised to me by the Lord, Himself, who has also empowered me to imitate His grace (albeit imperfectly) in my own relationships.

Giving grace to others or accepting the grace of God for ourselves can be very difficult. How can you and I show godly grace to one another? How can we give grace to those who have hurt us deeply? What about justice for the sins against us? What about a reckoning for the sins we have done against ourselves, God, or others? These are all questions that, in our imperfect condition, we may wrestle with as we evaluate the position we are in due to our own sin or sin against us. I think this is why God's grace is known to be truly matchless. He does not wrestle with giving us His grace! We are the one's struggling against grace. Freely, God has lavishly offered us His grace simply because we entered into a relationship with Him.

In our interpersonal relationships, we can use the concept of God's grace to heal and protect one another from the discord associated with our sinful behavior toward each other. Recently, I was reminded that the perfect grace of Christ toward me was the kind of grace that I was not extending to someone else. This brought a series of disappointments and disconnectedness between us. While the sins against me were significant, the grace from me about them was totally lacking. I wanted an account for every facet of the sin between us. I wanted an apology or affirmation for each painful word, each harmful action, every single detail of the problem was something my selfish heart wanted to examine, weigh, and reconcile in my mental ledger. This was my sin in the problem. I had not asked, nor invited the sin against me; however, I did not respond to the sin in kind. Rather, I responded by withholding grace. While I said I would forgive, I realized in my heart that my forgiveness was conditional based on my need to have an answer for the sin against me. This is not how God forgives! This is not how He gives us pardoning grace.

I have learned that for me to continue growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord (1 Peter 3:18), I must also exhibit that grace and knowledge of Him I have to others. This is humbling! I have looked closely at my situation in light of scripture and concluded that there is no apology or explanation for the sin against me that will satisfy my thirst for justice. None. The sin cannot be justified in this life. But I can offer grace. I can say, "What you have done cannot be undone. What has happened cannot be accounted for by talking it out or suffering any longer. But I can accept that what is done is done and by the grace of God given to me, I can give you grace and start clean with you." I can truly forgive by choosing to move away from the incident that harmed me, to not hold it against the other person, to stop talking about it to the person and others in ways that are not helpful, and choosing to abandon my desire to control the resolution I wanted rather than the resolution that God has already planned for us. The lessons taught in the Bible as always, are applicable throughout our lives. Here I am reminded that we can not only be forgiven for the debt of our sin, but we can also forgive others as we have been forgiven (Matthew 6:12, Ephesians 4:32). That is the marvelous, infinite, matchless grace of God.

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