We all love grace when we need it, and we need a lot of it. At the same time, there are times when we are called to extend grace in difficult circumstances where we would rather wash our hands of a mess that someone has created and be done with it. Certainly society can be very unforgiving – and the workplace the same.
Christian organizations and the church dance to the tune of a grace filled Lord which means that there are times when we are called to clean up messed up lives and give people a way toward greater health when they have made a mess of them. It is often not our first choice, it is often thankless work and we do it for one reason only: God extended grace to us and we are to extend grace to another.
It is easy to abandon people who find themselves in trouble of their own making. After all they created the mess, why should we help them get out of it. That line of thinking works until we realize that Jesus stepped into our mess when we didn’t deserve it. He did the hard thing of joining us in our mess and dying to redeem us and our mess. Not one person would be in relationship with God without Him doing the inconvenient and paying the ultimate cost.
This does not mean that grace is easy. It is not easy for those who extend it. And for those who need to receive it there must also be truth (Jesus was full of grace and truth). Truth requires those in trouble to take ownership of their sin and situation, be honest with themselves and others and do what they need to do to see inner healing and restitution where necessary.
In fact, part of the burden of grace extenders is that they also must help individuals who often don’t want to face the full burden of their mess to see what is true and confront what is in their hearts. These are hard conversations and there are many who fight the process, want to circumvent the full truth and simply move on. Grace extenders must be truth tellers and willing to go back and back and back if necessary and insist on transparency.
Not everyone responds to the combination of grace and truth but grace without truth is hollow and truth without grace is harsh. Only the one who needs grace can decide whether they will take it. We cannot force it. They must decide to embrace it – along with the path toward wholeness and restoration. To run from grace is foolish but to face the truth one must humble themself – a bridge too far for those whose pride is larger than their willingness to face truth.
Extending grace can be irritating (why did they do what they did?), inconvenient (Now I must deal with someone else’s mess), difficult (I must confront and hold another accountable) and time consuming (there is never a good time for a mess). But in the end it is far less than what Jesus did and does for us and that is the reason we extend the unmerited, undeserved favor of grace.