Grace Upon Grace
My husband and I were chatting about a little incident that happened today. I posted an item I wanted to sell on an online marketplace and got a pretty quick response from someone interested in buying it. We agreed on a price that suited both parties and scheduled a pickup time. Now, I’ve never had bad experiences selling to strangers and this instance wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t particularly pleasant either.
The buyer was more than an hour late. I inquired of her to see if she was still interested. If not, I would just put it back on the marketplace. She offered to use a pay app that would automatically take the money and put it into my account right then and there, and then come get the item ASAP. I researched the app, found it reliable, and sent her a request to pay. At this point, I was a little frustrated, but I figured, If we sell this, it will be out of our hair and we will have a few extra bucks. Okay, fine, so within ten minutes she came and left with the item, no problem. However, that app wasn’t actually letting funds go through. So I messaged her about the money and waited. It really wasn’t very long, but it certainly felt like it. Once she responded we decided on using a different pay app.
I’m still waiting to see if she will pay. I plan on reaching out to her again if she hasn’t paid within a few hours. To be honest, my initial reaction was disappointment on my part. Things should have been handled differently. Payment should have been verified before handing her the item. I do expect her to pay, but many people wouldn’t. What’s more disappointing is how people can do this in general. People don’t live by a complete set of rules and morals.
Some don’t even regard half of the rules that most of us agree upon and don’t generally regard rules in their own individual lives. I wish at times that life was fair. I was thinking about this and picturing what life might look like if everyone lived a fair life. People wouldn’t cheat others. All the injustices would go away. Yep, this is something I could get behind. Then, God shared a thought with me that changed my desire for a different reality. The only one who can deliver justice, equality, and treat people fairly is God. And He could have by not dying on the cross. Instead, He chose to deliver grace to each of us.
Grace Is A Gift
Humankind has failed in devoting our hearts to God. We are selfish and want what we want when we want it and sometimes, we achieve our desire at the expense of our relationships. Surely God could have kept us in check. He could have cast punishments for every wrong action done against Him and others.
But He doesn’t. He doesn’t want us to have a relationship with Him based on fear of retaliation, and He doesn’t want us to simply have a relationship with Him because He wants it. He wants a real, committed, mutually desired relationship between Him and us. That comes with a price. He has to open our eyes, soften our hearts to the things we do and allow that aren’t edifying and good. When we hurt others for our gain or out of revenge, we usually recognize it as something wrong in instances such as murder or theft. And we try to handle these cases more severely and I believe this is good.
People Don’t Deserve Grace
When someone cheats us out of money, does something hurtful to us such as spreading slander and lies, ruining relationships, and making us lose out on opportunities, it makes a person wonder what they can do? I know of a common reoccurrence that I often see people do and am guilty of doing myself. They retaliate by doing the same. Now, I’m a big advocate for people standing up for themselves. I think it is important to act. However, standing up for oneself and acting out because of revenge, anger, or hurt is not the same thing.
We spoke earlier about not receiving payment for the item I sold to someone. If this person decides not to pay me, ultimately, there are things I can do to try and get paid. If they don’t work, I will report her to mitigate future issues like these and hopefully provide more pleasurable experiences for others who want to sell their goods.
Through this whole process, I have learned how to have a deeper appreciation for grace that is given and received. It is a good gift, after all. There is no way to earn a good gift because it comes from within your heart. A good gift tells someone that you were thinking about them with regard, care, compassion. It is a gift willingly given and quickly, by God, to us.
This reminds me of a scene in Lord of The Rings when Frodo tells Gandalf that it would have been better if Bilbo killed Gollum when he had the chance. Gollum was a despicable creature, a murderer. Gandalf turns to Frodo and says, “Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends.” Gandalf also tells Frodo that if Gollum hadn’t found the ring, it wouldn’t have found its way to Bilbo, which meant that it wouldn’t have come to Frodo. It was because Frodo chose to destroy the ring that middle earth was saved.
God Gives Grace Freely
So, now, I’d like to revise this thought from my initial thinking.
“I wish, at times, that the world was fair. But then, I know, if it was, the justice I would receive would be unbearable and torturous given everything I have done to people and to God. I appreciate and value grace more now.”
Here’s the thing about grace. It has to come from a willingness to give and receive. This means that our hearts have to be soft enough. We have to put ourselves in the position to provide it. This is not always easy. We have to let go of our desire to fight for our own behalf and the desire to avenge ourselves. Let justice take its course and remember that grace is what saved us from our eternal punishment.
To be clear, it’s not about letting someone get away with something wrong they have done. It’s about the wisdom in knowing when and how to extend grace. Grace isn’t about releasing someone from the consequences of their action. It’s about how those consequences are given, and sometimes, the severity. When my son hits his sister because she takes a toy from him, consequences will stand. It’s my heart for him and my understanding of grace that enables me to deliver those consequences. God teaches me and shows me how to teach grace to my son so that, in turn, he may extend grace to people as well.
“But, by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove in vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” (1 Corinthians 10:15 NASB)
The Apostle Paul understood grace. He went from being a man who killed and persecuted anyone who believed that Jesus was the Messiah to a man, forgiven and free, devoted to spreading the message of salvation. Preaching that Jesus really is the Son of God and that Jesus came to save the world. In Paul’s writings, he states, over and over, how much more of a sinner he is compared to others. It’s said not out of pride and ego but because he knew he didn’t deserve grace and forgiveness. Because of everything he had done to those who loved Jesus, every sinful action he did. He understood the value of God’s grace because it was a gift he could never earn and never repay.
May We Gift the Gift of Grace to Others
If God can extend His grace to me, then may God teach me how to gift grace to others. I pray that He would give you and me the ability and the opportunity to share grace with people with understanding and love. Let’s practice this, shall we?
By the way, the lady who got my item did end up paying me. I just love happy endings!
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