Going Deeper into Loving Others
We’re glad you’re here. And we hope you have gathered others with you, sisters or brothers. It’s time to talk about Grace.
Father God, Your grace is amazing. Open our hearts to understand it better and grow us to freely give it to others as You give it to us.
Let’s begin with the Greek for grace, which reveals its biblical meaning.
charis – 1 grace. 1a that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech. 2 good will, loving-kindness, favour. 2a of merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues. 3 what is due to grace. 3a the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace. 3b the token or proof of grace, benefit. 3b1 a gift of grace. 3b2 benefit, bounty. 4 thanks (for benefits, services, favours), recompense, reward.
– Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon
What do you consider most profound about God’s grace? Why?
Joy. The profoundness of God’s grace to me is the emotion it creates despite my circumstances. Joy.
I look back on my twenty-plus year walk with Him and see moments of joy from the very beginning. My mom’s trust in Jesus as she lay dying, brought comfort and a very quiet joy wrapped in layers of thanksgiving. Obeying the Spirit when I didn’t understand, then seeing what resulted brought humble joy in His finding uses for me. Even the deep joy of confessions leaving me face-to-face with Jesus in the one who received news of my sin with love and grace.
Yet over the last couple of years, the joy is far more common. Present. Surprising. I suppose, the truth of His great suffering providing joy is just so amazing. I feel I should be left in face-down-humble-thanksgiving mode 24/7. And there are those moments, but the joy of grace…
Well… that’s just too much.
How is His grace revealed in its fullest form?
For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son… (John 3:16). God’s Son is the exact image of His grace given to His lost creatures.
Read John 1:14-18
What was the first step of His grace we see in this passage?
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… God, infinite and sovereign in nature, timeless and unbound, limited Himself to human form. From beginning to end. Embryo to Man.
What do we learn about giving grace, from His first step? What does it require?
God humbled Himself to be gracious to those He created, the same ones who rejected Him. Grace requires humility.
Holding your place in John turn to and read Philippians 2:1-8.
What did Jesus humble Himself to the point of?
Jesus, in human form, lived out the Word of God just as we are called to do: in obedience to the Father. He went so far as to humble Himself in death on a cross.
Turning back to John, holding your place in Philippians, what was it Jesus was full of and what did we receive from Him?
Jesus was full of grace and truth, and from His fullness we have received grace upon grace.
Based on your knowledge of Jesus, in what ways did He give grace to people when He ministered on earth?
Jesus’s ministry of grace included:
- speaking truth
- giving Himself as a sacrifice
- calming storms
- bringing light to the darkness
Philippians identifies His grace as encouragement, comfort, affection, sympathy. Which of these graces have you received in your life?
Unfolding little by little is how I see the way Jesus led the disciples, the way He taught them was pure grace. Little by little He revealed the Father’s way. He gave them time to adjust to His way of thinking, never rushing them or forcing them. Not once did He throw them into the deep end of the spiritual pool without His support. Little by little His grace flowed into them until each became grounded in their understanding of who He was, and who they were in Him.
My spiritual journey has often been a battle with two words: Not Enough. It began so long ago I can’t remember a time when I felt or believed I was enough of anything. Never smart enough, disciplined enough, spiritual enough. I’ve spent much time, maybe a lifetime trying to measure up, to be enough.
Three years ago God began a work in me through the spiritual discipline of My One Word (for more information on this discipline go to www.myoneword.org). One word, enough, became the theme of my journey. This year God added a word to go along with enough. The word unfolding. It means to open the folds of, expand, reveal, unwrap, to make clear by gradual disclosure.
This is where the grace of little by little resides. Each layer He pulls back in this journey, each gradual opening is a gift of His grace.
Were it all at once I’m not sure I would survive.
In reviewing my list of His acts of grace given in ministry, I found myself surprised to have circled every single one.
When I wrote the list, I thought of what He did for others. But in reviewing it, I saw what He has done for me.
From the fullness of His grace, I have received grace upon grace.
What is at the heart of the Philippians passage? What are Believers being called to consider? How are we to respond?
Humility lies at the heart of this Scripture. First, we recognize what He’s done for us, which requires embracing the truth: we are poor and needy. Second, we are called to humble ourselves for others as He did for us: Do nothing from selfish ambition… but in humility count others more significant…
Are you comfortable seeing God as humble? counting you worth the price He paid?
How do you feel when you think about humbling yourself as He did? considering others more significant? not equal in importance, but more?
Understanding humility as the first step in giving grace, consider the Reflection Scripture.
Read the Reflection Scripture out loud:
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Colossians 3:12-13 NLT
Even though the Reflection Scripture does not contain the word grace specifically, we find many aspects of the definition of charis contained in the verses.
In your reflection time, what discoveries did you make or insights did you have regarding what is involved when we give Grace as an act of faith? what does it look like?
…make allowance for other’s faults… Giving grace includes making allowance for other’s faults. Allowance is defined as “a share or portion allotted or granted; a sum granted as reimbursement; an imposed handicap; giving permission; the act of regarding bad behavior or a mistake because of special circumstance” (Merriam-Webster).
God chose Believers to be holy and to make allowance for the fault of others, just as He did for us. We humbly recognize our need for a Savior and give permission for others to fail. We are called to look past the bad behavior or hurt to see the “special circumstance” behind the action. Like an imposed handicap, blind to the truth, we give grace upon grace.
The New Living Translation of this verse includes the word “must” not once, but twice. A literal translation of the Scripture does not include the word “must” but it is found in the tenses and grammar of the Greek.
…you must clothe yourselves… “Clothe” or “put on” in other translations is in its imperative form in the Greek and expresses a command. We are commanded to clothe ourselves with grace.
…so you must forgive… The Greek for “so,” in other translations “also,” or in the NIV it’s simply combined in the single word Forgive, is an emphatic tense marking its importance. Giving grace to others through forgiveness is a vital part of following Christ.
In this must we discover the way His loving grace affects those who receive it. Receiving God’s grace must change our lives in an emphatic sense. When we receive God’s love in the form of grace it requires a like response to others.
Read Matthew 18:23-35
Jesus tells a parable about the Kingdom of heaven, comparing it to a king desiring to settle the debts of his servants.
The servant in the story is in a dire situation. His debt far beyond anything he could pay back even if he worked the rest of his life solely for the king. The king decides to cut his losses and sell the servant along with his entire family for at least a little of what he is owed.
When the servant hears the king’s decision, what does he do? How does the king respond?
From his knees, the servant begs the king for patience, for more time to pay back the debt. The king, out of pity, doesn’t just give him more time, he forgives the entire debt. The master gives the servant grace.
Yet, when the servant meets up with someone who owes him far less, what does he do?
The just forgiven servant violently demands what he is owed. The debtor begs for mercy in the same manner as the one demanding payment did before the king, but to no avail. He is thrown in jail. Other servants who know about the king’s forgiveness witness the man’s lack of grace and inform the king.
What happens next is confirmation of the insight found in the Reflection Scripture: Receiving the King’s grace must be responded to with like kindness to others.
The king is furious and throws the grace-less servant in jail until he can pay the debt. The grace given is taken back by the king, who has every right to do so. After all, he is the king.
Jesus ends the parable: So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from the heart.
Receiving God’s loving grace means we must change our attitude toward others’ debts and offenses. We must give grace in the measure we have received grace (Matthew 6:14-15).
Giving grace to others is evidence of having truly received God’s gift of grace through His Son, Jesus.
Looking back at the Reflection Scripture, does grace come naturally to us?
No. Grace does not come naturally. We must clothe ourselves with it.
Clothing is not natural. It is not organically a part of our being. It’s something we actively seek out and put on. It is not something we want to be caught without.
Clothes cover our natural state, which in this case, spiritually speaking, is the opposite of grace. Just as we are born into this world naked, without a stitch, we are born without a lick of grace in our sin-full being. Just as most of us don’t want to be caught without our clothes, once we are born again into His Kingdom, we don’t want to be caught grace-less.
According to the Reflection Scripture, what helps us exercise grace? actively keep it on?
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Remembering the forgiveness we’ve received helps us to re-member His grace and give it to others. What’s been done for us, we can do for others. It is a gift we can pass on.
There is a specific character trait associated with grace-filled Believers. What does God call His people in the Reflection Scripture?
God chose you to be the holy people He loves… Because we are holy we must clothe ourselves in grace.
What does this tell us about grace?
Grace is holy. It is the distinctive mark of God’s love. It is what sets Him apart from all others, and when we live grace-filled lives we are set apart from the world. Grace is God-given, not something found naturally occurring in the community of man.
This week, as you praised God as holy, did you gain insights into His grace?
The definition of holy includes: worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Ed.). God is perfectly good and righteous in all He does. So when His holiness includes coming in the flesh to make the way for what’s wrong to be made right by His grace, that is something worthy of complete devotion.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Psalm 145:8-9 ESV
Holy is His name.
Putting on grace in order to give grace is not the same as working for justification.
Read Galatians 2:15-21
No matter who you are, your family heritage or upbringing, the only means of justification is faith in Jesus. Absolutely no one is justified by keeping the law. If righteousness could be achieved through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
When we place our faith in Jesus’s work on the cross, the Word tells us we too have been crucified. By faith, we’ve been executed for breaking the law, therefore the law no longer has a hold on us. But does this mean we live law-less lives? How are we called to live?
In light of Christ’s sacrifice and grace we are to live to God, allowing the Spirit to have full reign, thus Christ lives in us and our flesh no longer “lives.” His grace is of singular importance and should consume our lives. It is the only means of salvation. It is what characterizes His love.
How should we view others based on the importance of His grace?
We who receive Jesus’s great grace should view others the same way He viewed us before we received His love: with eyes of pure grace. He came to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17). We are called to do likewise.
He doesn’t leave us empty-handed when it comes to giving grace to others. He gives us grace upon grace to re-member what He’s done for us and His Holy Spirit to empower us to love with grace as He does. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.
One of the major indicators of the influence of grace in our lives is what comes out of our mouths.
Read Ephesians 4:29-32
The primary concern in this passage is the words we speak and their power to give grace to those who hear them.
What type of talk is not to come out of our mouths? What are we to “put away,” get rid of, or toss out?
Corrupting, unwholesome, foul talk are some of the various translations for the talk we are to get rid of. The Greek literally means: rotten, putrefied… corrupted by one and no longer fit for use… of poor quality, bad, unfit for use, worthless (Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon). When something is rotten, like a vegetable, the rot spreads and begins to corrupt whatever it has touched. The same is true for our words.
Any words which do not proffer grace are considered worthless. They are not to be spoken by Believers. We are to put away or get rid of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. All these words tear down or put down those who they are spoken to or about.
Why do you think the Holy Spirit is grieved when worthless words come out of Believers mouths?
Corrupt, rotten words are devoid of grace. When spoken from the mouth of a Believer it reveals how little we’ve allowed the grace we’ve been given to transform our hearts. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
When worthless words leave our mouths, we give a poor witness of the power of grace and allow our dying rotten flesh to still live in us and not Jesus. This grieves the Holy Spirit.
What are the words of grace we should strive for? how can we be gracious with our words?
- be kind
- be quiet
- don’t argue
- offer peace
- say “thank you” and “please”
- be courteous
Consider the times you’ve failed to speak words of grace to others. Did you feel the sadness of the Holy Spirit within? How?
Let’s take a moment to pray over the state of our hearts and our words.
For groups we suggest praying a Scripture-based one-accord conversational prayer in four parts.
- Praise: Spend time glorifying God with praise. Telling Him how great He is builds our faith and reminds us who we are speaking to.
- Confession: Take time to cleanse the air between yourselves and God, confessing sins and seeking forgiveness. This time can be silent. But make room for those in the group to confess out loud if the Spirit is pressing them to bring their sin in the light.
- Thanksgiving: A time of thanks after confession is natural response to our forgiveness in Jesus. Giving thanks and praise ushers us into the presence of God (Psalm 100:4).
- Intercession: Now it’s time to begin asking for Him to intercede on our behalf. Ask Him for what you desire most when it comes to growing as a disciple. Ask Him for whatever you think you need. In this time of prayer we will focus on our talk.
Choose a person to lead the prayer. When leading, allow time for others to pray what the Spirit puts on their hearts. Don’t be afraid of silence. The prayer should flow as a conversation. Each praying as led, possibly building on each other’s prayers. It works best when each person prays in short sentences.
There is no specific order or number of times each person can offer a prayer in any given part. No one is required to pray out loud. Move through the parts of prayer as the Spirit leads. If you are alone, pray the four steps yourself. Again, make room for the Spirit to lead your time of prayer. Don’t be afraid of silence, take time to listen.
The Scriptures are given as prompts or a starting point to pray.
Praise: Praise Him as Holy.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:4-5 ESV
Lord, we praise You as Holy…
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1John 1:9 ESV
Lord, forgive us our sins…
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1 NIV
Lord, we give You thanks for…
Set a guard, O Lord, overy my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Psalm 141:3 ESV
Lord, set a guard over my mouth…
Close your time of prayer.
Lord, thank You for hearing us… Amen.
Our words alone, can cause someone to miss the grace of God, which has powerful consequences.
Read Hebrews 12:14-15
When others miss God’s grace, bitterness takes root and leads to all kinds of trouble.
Have you experienced the root of bitterness in your life? or someone else’s? What came of it?
What can be done to bring healing?
The words for the homework leading to this session were just completed. As I made the transition to put final words on a blog post, the teaching of grace lingered in my mind. I made several attempts to complete the post. I wrote, deleted, started again with the last paragraph. Just when I felt the words were almost right, an interruption came.
At an attempt to remember what just came to mind, I asked for a few minutes to get down on paper what was in my brain. Let’s just say, there was not one smidgen of grace in the response I received. I was hurt. I was angry. My mind flooded with thoughts of self-preservation and things I wanted to say.
As my emotions calmed, another war began. Could I offer grace where none was given? Would I make an allowance for the behavior, or would I choose bitterness? Would giving grace make a difference? bring healing?
In the end, I never said the things I wanted to say. I chose not to defend myself or point out the other’s fault in the matter.
No bitterness has taken root in me over the circumstance. As for healing or change? These things take time. Grace is a seed we plant but only God makes grow.
Read Romans 4:1-8
Abraham was solely justified by his believing trust in God, not by his works in the flesh. He was counted righteous as a gift of grace from God, not because he earned it. Workers earn wages, they are not a gift. But God gives grace based on faith in Jesus to all generations (John 8:56).
When we require restitution before we forgive someone, or a change in behavior before we give grace, what are we doing?
When we make stipulations to offering grace, we are asking others to work for something we have been given. This approach surely grieves the Holy Spirit and causes others to miss the grace of God.
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 ESV
Grace is not earned. It is a gift to be given.
In Hebrews 12:14, Believers are called to strive for peace and holiness, so no one will miss the grace of God. Because without the peace brought about by grace and the holiness marked by grace, no one will see the Lord.
Giving grace makes Jesus visible to others. It is what we are called to wear daily and to re-member in the world by the power of the Holy Spirit.
We considered the Eternal Treasure of giving, which comes from God’s holy grace being given to us through Jesus.
Do you tend to give grace eagerly or criticize what you see in others?
The ultimate point of grace, the reason Jesus lived and died, was to make a way for us to be in God’s presence. When we share the grace with others they too have the opportunity to enter His throne room end experience the eternal treasure of grace.
A critical attitude toward someone reveals our own issues of pride. Requiring someone to earn grace by obeying laws we stipulate will only serve to move them farther away from grace. A simple drawing might make this clear.
The Law’s Trajectory
We’ve learned it is only through grace we are saved.
The Law alone cannot bring about salvation. In fact, obeying the law puffs up our pride causing us to be critical of others, much like the religious leaders of Jesus’s day. We find ourselves on a trajectory away from God’s presence refusing to humble ourselves or recognize our need for healing. We certainly don’t offer grace to others. In the end, we miss the opportunity to open wide the gates of heaven and usher others into His presence. Our eternal treasure never comes to fruition.
The gift of grace we receive in Jesus splits wide the curtain between God and us. Through grace we humbly step past the separation, and experience His healing touch. Grace connects us to God’s presence. Humbleness and healing help us connect with others and compels us to give saving grace to them. This cycle of humility, healing, and grace continually spring us back to God. We reach out. We are drawn back into His presence. Our eternal treasure grows.
This is the Good News. Grace always connects us to the Father!
Oh, sisters and brothers, imagine the day when we stand in God’s presence, experiencing the fullness of our eternal treasure. We’ll worship like never before, and we won’t be alone. Others will be there too. Those saved through the Grace we shared, our eternal treasure, will worship with us. What a day that will be!
Doesn’t it make you want to pour out grace upon grace? To share the Good News through grace giving? The very thought spurs us onward and leads us into our final week of this series: Giving Our All.
Now go… give grace until we meet again.
Click here for a PDF of the homework: Give Week 5 – Give Your All – Homework
Lord, may Your grace draw us to You along with all those we share Your grace with.