"If I came up to meet you, would you be smug with me?
If I was lying in the road, would you step over me?
If I were just bare bones, would you leave me skinned alive?
If I were drifting into space, would you let me be erased?
I think you would.
I think you would."
I just finished reading Brennan Manning's "The Ragamuffin Gospel." I'm sure people may find him controversial, but his writing on the grace of God is consistent and emphatic.
Reading Manning made me realize that I have no problem identifying God's grace in Scripture. I can recognize and can be appreciative (but not always) when others extend grace towards me. There have been many times when I've deserved to be "called on the carpet," blamed, put down, scolded, charged, held to account and punished. Instead I've been given "a pass," "some slack," a pardon, forgiveness...Grace!!
Where I realize I have a problem is extending grace to others. I think it's only fair to expect to be treated with honesty, fairness and truthfulness. It's fair to expect others to work as hard as I do and to perform to my all too reasonable expectations. When they don't, I think it's fair that they suffer some consequence for letting me down that way. This is true both in the workplace and at home! Men like me are referred to in the world as "principled," fair-minded," and "discerning." We are driven by the "bottom-line" of pocketbook in the workplace and public perception at home. I truly am like the servant in the parable who is forgiven his debt by the king, yet holds his debtors, who owe him much less, to account.
I bump into several Scriptures that contradict my natural attitude about grace: "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." "do not resist him who is evil...(that whole turn the other cheek thing, you know?)" "if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also." "...love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you..." "Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?"
I've come to believe that every time I (accidentally mess up and do the right thing, that is) extend grace to others, I'm laying up what Jesus calls "treasures in heaven." It's part of a parallel universe value system. But that's for the next post. In the mean time, cut someone who needs it some slack and so will I. (Watch for the reaction when you do extend grace...it's clearly unexpected and really catches people by surprise.)