Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 1:7b)
I have been so impressed with Paul’s introductory words from Romans 1 throughout both Corinthian letters and extending through the Epistles. He always writes “grace and peace.” Notice that it’s never “peace and grace.” I believe there’s a reason for the order of his wording. Peace only comes after grace has been extended. We see it demonstrated at the cross. Now, we can experience peace because of the price Jesus paid for our redemption. It was His grace that made it possible (Eph. 2:8-9). We are so thankful for that. I believe, however, that while the Lord was extending His grace to us, He was also giving us an example to follow. In other words, He was (and is) inviting us to extend grace to those who have offended us just as He did for us.
Just what does this “grace” accomplish anyway? Well, obviously, it brings peace to the one “offended.” The choice to completely forgive has been made and the “offender” is seen through God’s perspective and not our tainted one. The offense has been nailed to the cross and we “bear it no more” as the hymn writer stated. When the remembrance of the offense enters our mind, we reflect on the grace of God extended to us and then, in humility, shower the one who hurt us with the same grace given to us. Isn’t that part of the pattern the Lord showed us? “Forgive us our debts AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.” He takes the topic of grace seriously. We now see the person who hurt us with acceptance and love and not a cloud of suspicion or hesitation.
The overflow of extended grace then allows for reconciliation. So much of scripture speaks to that subject because it’s paramount in the Lord’s thinking. Again, that was clearly seen through the cross. He (Jesus) reconciled us back to God. Why would He not desire that for the very ones for whom He died?
It all boils down to a matter of choice. Will I choose to hold on to the anger, fear, and anxiety and hold the “offender” and myself hostage, thus, forfeiting the peace that God has offered? Or will I see myself as forgiven by God’s amazing grace and extend that grace to a brother or sister in Christ? This month, I would encourage you to “seek peace and pursue it” with a humble heart and mindset. As a result of the latter choice, you will find yourself experiencing a “peace that passes all understanding” and an attitude of praise and thanksgiving you may not have experienced before. Have a blessed and grace filled month, and . . . rest of your life.