When You Withhold Grace

extend grace

They turn on each other in a New York minute. One second they’re playing nicely together, sharing toys, and laughing. The next I hear screams of “Mama!” as my six-year-old chases his younger sibling through the room.

Part of me wants to just close the door and lock them in there. But I figure I should at least see if both kids are still alive.

After I kneel down on the floor and get the scoop on what happened, I tell both boys to apologize. I am struck by how quickly they forgive each other. There are no grudges held over what happened or didn’t happen. They simply return to their toys and pick up where they left off.

Later, as we’re winding down for the evening and saying the evening prayers with the boys, it hits me. I see the example of grace God is giving me through my children. He is always teaching me through these little vessels who stretch me in more ways than I can count.

While my kids freely extend grace, I often withhold it. Isn’t it interesting how the older we get, the more fiercely we hold onto something that Christ freely gave?

We act as though we are wiser and try to be anything but vulnerable. We protect our hearts from anything which threatens to wound or cause pain.

Often, we throw around the phrase, “You’re acting like a child” as an insult, but didn’t Jesus say for us to have the faith of a child? Didn’t he command us to let all the little children come to him, and not hinder them?

If we are honest, there are a lot of things we could learn from our children.

And if I take an honest look at my life, the times when I’ve withheld grace are too numerous for me to count. I see friends and family members freely forgive and reconcile with someone who hurt them, and I wonder how they could be so naive. I speculate about how long it will be until further damage is done.

I see my God extend grace upon grace to those I love, but often I would rather see him deliver judgment. After all, doesn’t judgment bring repentance?

As I open the pages of my Bible, I’m struck with the truth of his word,

“So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” Romans 2:3-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

The fact is, friends, that God’s grace illuminates my sin. And my sin makes me uncomfortable.

It is much easier to put a microscope on the faults of others than to put a mirror to my own.

However, in doing so, not only am I causing God to withhold grace, but I am ensuring his judgment. And the judgment will not be on the one I’m pointing my finger toward.

It will be against me. I am desperately aware of my need for forgiveness, and of the number of times I fall short every day.

There is only one person who belongs in the judgment seat, friends, and trust me, it is not a responsibility that you or I want. That task belongs to Jesus Christ alone.

When I extend grace, God’s favor is extended to me.

Let’s hand over the gavel to the One who can handle the weight that comes with it.

Let’s replace it with the grace that was given so freely to us.


*Linking up with Kelly Balarie & FriendsHolly BarrettMeredith Bernard, and Jennifer Dukes Lee to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.


39 thoughts on “When You Withhold Grace

  1. Abby, I love this! And you are so right! This was a wonderful reminder to always be mindful of the love and grace that GOD has so graciously given and extended to us that we may offer the same to others. Thank you so much for sharing this! Infinite blessings to you, Love! 🙂

    #RaRaLinkup 😉


  2. Oh, Abby. This is beautiful. Your title drew me in immediately! It is so true, the older we get, the more fiercely we hang on to the thing Christ freely gave. I love your attention to our needing to be more childlike in our faith. Going to share this in the opening time of our ladies Bibke study in a couple of hours. ❤


    • Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement, Dianne. It is an honor to have these words shared with your Bible study sisters. Praying God’s blessing over your time today. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love how you pointed out that we often use the phrase, “You are acting like a child” as an insult, and then highlighted the truth of God’s perspective – that we are all told to become like a child in our faith. Like you, I learn so much from my children. I love how quickly they forgive, how deeply they love, and how readily they accept the truth of God’s love for them. Absolutely beautiful!


  4. Abby,
    I too have been guilty of intentionally withholding grace. Then my gracious Father gently whispers to me, GIVE. Then I have to get over myself and love is the hard space. Thank you for this reminder today. So happy to be visiting you from the #raralinkup


    • Thank you so much for stopping by, Tyra. Yes, the Holy Spirit is usually gentle, isn’t he? But persistent. 😉 I’m so grateful for God’s grace and patience with me, even when I don’t deserve it. Blessings to you, friend.


  5. Abby this is wonderful! I always struggle with child-like faith and your post has really convicted me on how quickly I pass judgement on others and fail to grasp grace! Bless your words Abby 🙂 May they continue to reach out to so many! 🙂


    • Ruth, it is a struggle for me too and God keeps bringing me back to it and sending me reminders through my kids. It’s always a joy to hear from you. Thank you for stopping here, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. “It is much easier to put a microscope on the faults of others than to put a mirror to my own.” Oh, how true this is, Abby, especially when there is a critical spirit flying around. Another encouraging post, my friend. Your writing truly has turned a corner recently. #WriteOn for #RaRaLinkUp and more. Go Jesus!


  7. Abby,
    My word for 2015 is grace. I picked it…or God picked it for me because I often hold onto grace I need to give with a firm, tight fist. Oh that I could pour out grace like God pours it out on me! Thank you for this great encouragement!
    Bev xx


    • Wow, Bev. Grace- what a wonderful but challenging word. God always brings me back to something when he’s trying to drill it through my head. My skull can be thick at times. 😉 Blessings and hugs to you, friend.


  8. Being honest, I know I sometimes withhold grace until I “know the whole scenario”… but that’s still not being gracious. I think you used the word illuminated. Such a powerful word.
    I pray our actions illuminate His grace for others to taste and see.
    Much love, lady! Caught up with you today with the #RaRaLinkup


    • Oh yes, I go to the “whole scenario” point too. And often. A lot of times I have to remember it’s really none of my business. So blessed to hear from you, Christine. It’s Wednesday! Hoping spring is right around the corner…after this next snow storm, of course. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I am trying to teach my son the idea of grace. He loves to be forgiven but it’s hard for him to forgive. I can see how he struggles with it and wants to keep on holding the grudge. It’s such a perfect image of us. How we love to accept God’s grace but how hard it is to give it to others.


    • Yes, Joanna. How often we accept grace but are quick to withhold it from others. God keeps bringing me back to this word, grace, so I know he’s transforming me, too. Thank you for sharing here today.


  10. I think about this often. Not just in terms of the grace we extend outwards, but also towards ourselves. Kids are such good teachers. I make a mistake and I feel so guilty and stuck in it, but they bounce back so quickly. When I approach things with my daughter’s loving but light touch, not consumed with worry and self doubt, I’m able to be more gracious with her, with others, and with myself. In those moments, I feel more in line with God too. Great post!


    • Oh yes, Kristi. I struggle with giving myself grace too. That is perhaps my biggest struggle and could be an another blog post, or many. 😉 I’m so thankful for all of the ways God teaches us through our kids. Thanks for sharing here. Always a blessing to hear from you.


  11. This: “We act as though we are wiser and try to be anything but vulnerable. We protect our hearts from anything which threatens to wound or cause pain.”

    Bull’s eye. So hard to change…..thank you for highlighting it.


  12. “It is much easier to put a microscope on the faults of others than to put a mirror to my own.” Well said. If we can just hold on to that childlike quality! How wonderful our relationships with others will be. Thanks, Abby!


  13. Must be a message that I need to hear… extending grace. Was also a part of our Bible study tonight. Thank you for the reinforcement! Great post as always friend. Blessings!


  14. Seriously Abby, you and I must be on the same page. I just wrote about the judgement seat in a similar way this morning and then I read this. Wow. I think sometimes the Lord wants a message sent out and he puts it on our hearts to make sure the Word is broadcasted. I even used the same verse. I am kind of in awe. In any case, I am right here with you on this post and couldn’t agree more. I love receiving grace but I find it so hard to extend. Cheering you Abby! I love your heart for the Lord. You know where I cheer for you from, so I won’t even say it! XOXO


  15. “There is only one person who belongs in the judgment seat, friends, and trust me, it is not a responsibility that you or I want. That task belongs to Jesus Christ alone.” Yup – this! It’s amazing how we can quickly slip into that role of “grace-giver” or “grace-withholder” isn’t it?! As if we hold the monopoly on this freely given gift. Such a great reminder to be mindful of our grip on grace – to not hold it so tightly but share it willingly. Always blessed, friend! PS. Have you read Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus – by Elise Fitzpatrick. Think you’d like. 🙂


  16. OH…children are such wonderful teachers. Although I have none of my own, I have taught and now tutor (3 first and second graders) and they give me plenty to think about and learn from. : ) And the children I have taught or been around have always shown me so very much.
    Grace-giving…only through God’s love can I give it as easily as your boys.
    Thanks for a fine word.
    Caring through Christ, ~ linda


  17. Great post! How much we can learn from our kids, who have such loving hearts that haven’t yet been tainted by this world.


  18. Love this! how often do we hold onto what we should let go! Grace and mercy are so lavished on us (who don’t deserve it) We need to remember to pour it to others in the same way! thanks!


    • Yes, I believe it is a lifelong lesson. Grace is so hard for us to understand sometimes but so crucial at the same time. Thank you for visiting today, Karen.


  19. There is so much wisdom in these words, Abby. And this, “God’s grace illuminates my sin. And my sin makes me uncomfortable.” Yes, that. How much my children have taught me about grace…and how much more I have yet to learn. Thank you for sharing from your place of surrender and reminding me how much more I need to. ❤


    • I think grace is one of the most difficult things for us to grasp, but also the most important. I’m so thankful for it and yet it’s a struggle, isn’t it. Thanks for your support, dear friend. I’ve said it before but I’m so thankful to have you alongside me for the journey. ❤


  20. Beautifully written and clearly true Abbey Not an easy path for me anymore it seems, maybe possible . My life has been pretty rough and there are a lot of deep gouges in places where love should be .

    If your brave check out my blog at


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