An American missionary friend, in Lodwar, Kenya, East Africa, came home to an infuriating sight. Two teenage boys were crawling through a hole they had made in his fence. He was livid with anger.
He wrote, “They ran into the house across the street from me. I went to the door but the girl that answered said their mother was not home. I told her to tell her mama to come see me as soon as she got home.”
When the mother got home, the missionary went to her gate and told her what he saw. “She calls for the boys to come outside. They admitted they cut open my fence to get their ball they had kicked inside. She has them pull down their pants and lay on the ground. She calls for one of the girls to bring her a stick. By this time the rest of my neighbors are all gathered around us.
“Part of me wants these boys beaten for tearing a hole in my fence and coming inside like thieves. But there is the other part of me…the part that I hope controls my life. God has forgiven me greater trespasses than cutting a fence to get a ball…how can I not forgive them? So I do. I do not wait for them to ask. I simply told them I forgive the offense. I ask the mama not to beat the boys this time.
“However, she insists on beating them. She tells story after story where those two boys have done wrong and she is a single mama. She needs them beaten!
“I do not know why I did it, but right then, I laid down next to the boys and told her to beat me first. If they were going to be beaten for this, then beat me too.
“She started to cry….the boys were crying….and so was I. Mama told us all to get up. We hugged and I told her and the boys I forgive them and asked that we be friends.
“Grace does that—enemies become friends. We are called to be vessels of grace. Period!” – Eddie Williams
God’s grace affects life beautifully, in many ways—It is God’s grace that enables Him to forgive and save sinners—It is God’s grace that, like Eddie did, extends forgiveness and pardon to people who sin against us—And it is God’s grace that is the message we share with people around us.
God’s grace is amazing! It interacts with us in three ways:
- We are to be Recipients of Grace. Grace is the spontaneous, unmerited gift of God’s favor, forgiving sin and granting salvation, to people who do not deserve it, and who could never earn it.
But grace—though free to the receiver—is costly to the giver: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).
The only way sinners can ever be saved is by trusting Christ alone to save them. Paul summed it up: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Salvation by Grace is an undeserved gift from God. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
- We are to be Dispensers of Grace. This is what the missionary did. He was a recipient of grace—who chose to extend grace, pardon and forgiveness—in place of punishment—even if it cost him.
Jesus taught His followers to extend grace and forgiveness in Matthew 18 where He told of a slave who was forgiven a great debt, but then refused to forgive another indebted to him. The slave owner said, “I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I have mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:33).
Believers in Christ are to dispense grace and forgiveness in all they do. Paul commanded: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6).
- We are to be Messengers of Grace. Because God has “reconciled us to Himself through Christ,” He has given to followers, “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Believers in Christ—reconciled to God by the death of His Son—are then to become messengers of God’s grace to others—“He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (verse 19).
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Knowing Christ means you are to share Christ with others who need Him. We, and churches like Corinth, are to be devoted to communicating the message that through Jesus Christ, people everywhere can be forgiven of sins and become reconciled to God.
This message of grace is possible because “He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (verse 21). The message of grace is that sinners can become righteous because the righteous One became sin for them!
God’s message of grace is to be received, emulated and proclaimed! Let us never forget, “that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).