Extending His Grace, Part 2
Philippians 2:8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
I Peter 5:5b Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
One way we extend grace to others is by first positioning ourselves rightly. This is called humility. Taking the low place is putting ourselves in a place where we can receive His grace. (Grace is like water—it flows to the lowest place.) Once we receive grace, it becomes easier to extend it.
We don’t “achieve” humility, of course. It’s really more of a matter of getting real—knowing that God is God, we’re not, and there is nothing in us apart from Christ than can bring any extension to God’s Kingdom or any genuine spiritual good to anyone else. Happily, we have the Great Model in Jesus and what He did (see yesterday’s devotional).
Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Jesus did this. Though of course He knows that He is God and we are not, by taking on flesh, living life on earth and by dying a gruesome death, He took the low place. And He did so because He was putting our interests before His own.
Philippians 2:5-7 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
How does this relate to others? When we live in gratitude for His amazing grace, we remember how unworthy we are, and how awesome His sacrifice was on our behalf. When this is real to us, and we’re living it, we are newly open to extending that awesome grace to anyone.
We all have people we relate to that are difficult to deal with. There’s a special code for them: EGR (Extra Grace Required). We get irritated and annoyed with them when our response is based on their works rather than our received grace. When they behave as we think they should, it’s generally easy to be kind and gracious to them. But if we’re flowing in the grace of God (continuing to receive it and letting it flow out of us), it doesn’t matter how they behave (even if we’re right about their acting wrongly). Again, we find the classic tension between grace and works here—their works needing to draw forth our received grace.
While Jesus spoke firmly and in great and powerful righteousness at times, we never see him acting small and impatient, or condescending, or not knowing what to say. He took the eternally low place, received grace from His Father, and extended it to everyone in His path. We have His example. Once we find our low place, we can do the same thing.
Prayer: Jesus, if you died for me and gave so much, and I’ve received that gift, then I have it within me to extend the grace You extended to me, to others. Help me to deeply understand the manifold aspects of your sacrifice so that I can rightly minister the manifold grace of God to others. (I Peter 4:10)