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.