It’s on. The hustle and bustle of Christmas is in full force and all of us have been sucked in. Whether intentional or unintentional, we can’t escape the busyness and craziness of this season.
A big part of the hustle and bustle is getting all the presents we need to get for family and friends. Millions of gifts will be purchased, wrapped and given away the next three weeks and we’ll personally give a lot of gifts this Christmas season, but I think there is one gift we can give to one another that far outweighs anything we buy on Amazon.com or at Nordstrom’s.
This gift is free, but sometimes it’s the hardest thing to give and often forgotten. It is a gift that all of us desperately need in one way or another, but sometimes the last thing we think or want to give.
Grace is something we can’t earn and don’t deserve. Grace is the offer of exactly what we do not deserve. It’s freely given, but comes at the cost of the giver.
Andy Stanley defines it this way by contrasting grace with mercy:
Mercy is not proactive. Mercy is not getting what I deserve. I can decide not to punish my children. But that’s different from doing something FOR them when I should actually be doing something TO them. Grace is proactive. Grace doesn’t merely withhold retribution. Grace offers something good in addition to withholding what an individual deserves.
Mercy says, “I won’t sue you.” Grace says, “I won’t sue you AND I’ll come over next week and serve you. God didn’t merely withhold punishment, He sent His Son to die for us.
This season we’ll spend a lot of time with family and friends. This means there will be the potential for a lot of conflict and complexity. Relationships are complex and it’s inevitable there will be conflict.
But this season can be different. The greatest gift you can give those around you is the gift of grace.
The greatest gift we were all given was the birth of Jesus Christ, the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place. This was the most extravagant demonstration of grace and communicated our worth as individuals to the God of the universe. We should respond the same way to those around us. We should give them the gift of grace.
What would the world look like if everyone gave away grace this Christmas?