The value of the gift

Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. (James 2:12-13)

It took me a long, long time to realize my 'talk' and 'walk' had to be the same - talking is much easier than walking! Walking is riddled with all kinds of potholes and 'unevenness', isn't it? We go up and down, in and out, running hot and cold. This whole 'business' of loving others as you love yourself seemed to be a little contradictory because 'self' gets us all into a lot of trouble at times, doesn't it? The reality is that we must learn to walk in grace. It begins by allowing grace to show us how to be kind to others when they don't deserve kindness - isn't that the way we would want them to treat us? We must not allow the harshness of 'immediate reactions' to come through, but how on earth do we do that when someone just disappointed us, made our life a little miserable, or created a whole lot of drama we now have to deal with? Here comes that 'grace' word again - learning how to 'live out grace' instead of just talking about it is what God is after in our lives.

If Jesus had just sat up in heaven and talked with his Father about grace, would sin have been dealt with in our lives? Nope...he had to walk the talk! He put it all on the line - showing us what grace actually means. Grace isn't earned - we have already established that many times in our lessons together. Grace isn't a 'thing', but the extension of a person - Jesus Christ living and breathing inside of each of us. Grace is actionable, but it is more than action - it is attitude - inward character built up each and every day by spending time with Jesus. The 'rule' that set us free was grace - now God calls for us to let grace 'rule' in our lives. Kind mercy - not harsh judgment. It may escape us on occasion to know exactly 'how' to extend kindness, but if we have spent that time with Jesus 'up front' in our daily walk, the ability to act kindly is a whole lot easier (even when the 'jerk' doesn't deserve it).

I struggle with this a whole lot, so I am not preaching 'at you'. I am challenged to respond with kindness when all I want to do is 'read someone the riot act'. I know what it is like to say I believe grace should be extended and then turn around and be as 'ungraceful' as possible. Lest you think I have 'arrived' at this 'perfect walk' with Christ - think again! It is a daily recommitment to allow God's grace to rule in my life (in reality it is a moment-by-moment kind of thing). What I do know is that God helps as I ask for help. Learning to walk the talk might just begin with the simplest of steps - asking for his help! Not once, but time and time again until the 'walk' begins to 'stick'. Grace isn't always as easy to give as it is to receive, but in giving it we learn the value of the gift! Just sayin!

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