Grace isn't fair
Grace isn’t fair… Does that make you uncomfortable? It’s probably something you haven’t thought too much about, but I think it’s true. Because grace essentially gives something to someone that they don’t deserve. Which isn’t fair because it almost always costs the giver.
But that’s exactly what Jesus has done for us. He gave us life at the expense of His own.
You see, there was a cosmic dilemma that existed before Christ came. God, by his very nature is just, which means that wrong doing and sin had to be punished. At the same time, he has an incredible love for his creation and desires that all humanity would follow him (2 Peter 3:9)… So what do you do? On the one hand, justice must be served. On the other, we are his children whom He loves dearly.
Enter the genius of the cross… On the cross, justice was served. Somebody was paying for the sin and moral failure of humanity. Jesus, the perfect man who was fully God, took upon himself that which we deserved. He took the penalty that should have been served to us. He paid with his life so that we didn’t have to.
Yet, at the very same time, grace was on display. Because as Jesus gives up his life, we gain life. We become new creations. We are saved and we are pronounced as sons and daughters of God. And because of Jesus’s sacrificial love (His grace), we can be pronounced good when we stand before God someday.
But understand, this is anything but fair. Sure, we benefit, but Jesus had to literally give up Heaven (Philippians 2:6-11) to save us. Jesus took upon himself the sin of the world, so that we could live. He endured the suffering, the cross, the ridicule, the embarrassment, and the grave for you and me. How could we ever say that grace is fair when we see what Jesus went through?
Which leads me to the application of grace in our own lives. As we lean more and more into God’s grace, it should change us. It should propel us to be more like him. To love and serve in the ways that he did.
And if you ever want to have any success in helping people find and follow Jesus, you have to accept that grace is unfair… Because your new role as a follower of Christ is to love others the way Christ has loved you. Your role is to give grace. But you need to know ahead of time, grace isn’t fair, because somebody always pays.
If a friend breaks your lamp, you’ll pay when you replace it. When someone robs you of an opportunity, of happiness, of reputation, or takes something away that you’ll never get back, there is a sense of debt that is created between you and the other person… Because justice has been violated and this person owes you (adapted from King’s Cross by Tim Keller).
So, when someone wrongs you, you have two options. Get even. Or give grace.
And herein lies the practical answer to a lot of our problems today… We’ve forgotten how to give grace to those we do life with. We love to talk about God’s grace for us and how much we need it, but we become greedy with our grace for the world around us.
When someone says a harsh word on social media, do we fight back or give grace? When we have an opportunity ripped out from underneath us, do we slander or give grace? When your spouse lets you down, do you get even or give grace? When there’s a misunderstanding between you and a friend, do you ridicule or give grace?
Giving grace is a requirement when following Jesus. And it is rarely fair. But, when we keep Jesus in view and what He’s done for us, it gives us the basis for why we give grace. Always remember that God’s grace toward us is the reason for our grace toward others. I love how Dallas Willard says it in his book Renovation of the Heart:
The greatest saints are not those who need less grace, but those who consume the most grace, who indeed are most in need of grace—those who are saturated by grace in every dimension of their being. Grace to them is like breath.
If you want to be more like Jesus, then consume more grace so that you can give more grace.
Breathe grace in. Exhale grace out.
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