BY PAUL DUNK
Grace is easier to tweet about than extend.
When we are talking about my sin and the impact it has on others, I want grace. When we are talking about your sin and the impact it is having on others, I want justice.
Now before I continue, I must be clear in stating that I am not suggesting that our sin is without consequence. What I am saying is that the only way for me to extend grace rather than demand justice is to be well acquainted with the fact that I have been forgiven by God. The problem is that I'm really good at downplaying my sin and simultaneously inflating yours.
Jesus said that "he who is forgiven much, loves much and he who is forgiven little, loves little". He isn't saying this because there are actually people who only need to be forgiven a little.
Our sin against God deserves damnation because He's perfectly just, yet united to Christ we receive redemption because He's perfectly gracious.
Therefore, we do well to remember that God doesn't rank sin - we do. God doesn't have a tier system for forgiveness, we do. God doesn't have categories whereby you offend Him a little or a lot. He's God. He set the bar and it's called perfection.
We all have people in our lives who have hurt us, offended us, wronged us, or traumatized us. By human standards, they don't deserve our forgiveness, they aren't looking for our forgiveness and no jury on earth would convict us of not extending grace to them. Then the gospel reminds us that if it weren't for God's grace, we'd be in the same damnable condition that they are.
Of course we don't sin like they sin - we sin our way. At the end of the day, a self righteous Christian can't see their sin and therefore prefers that everyone else sin the way they do. After all, they don't sin - they're just "not perfect". Our self righteousness get's in the way of repentance because saying "I'm not perfect" or "I'm dealing with something" doesn't provoke repentance like "I'm a sinner in need of grace" does. I'm guilty of downsizing my sin that way. It's a great way to justify why I deserve grace and you deserve justice.
More often than I care to admit, I think that everyone else's sin is darker than mine. The truth is that by God's standards, my sin is just as dark and goes just as deep. The gospel is the great equalizer:
Without Christ we're all dead and united to Him we're all alive.
The gospel makes us confident and humble all at once. We are confident that we are loved, our sins are forgiven and we now live in glorious freedom. We are humble because we didn't do anything to make that possible - and being mindful of that, the Spirit empowers us to extend grace to others.
Good news church. The grace that saved us is also teaching us, transforming us and sustaining us. May we find rest in His forgiveness toward us and may the Spirit strengthen us to forgive others from that place of rest.
Paul is a graduate of Knox Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of KW Redeemer in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. He is an MCO race school graduate, but presently his main hobby is drinking espresso because it's cheaper than fixing cars. Paul and Susan live in Waterloo with their three children.