Practically, we need to have an idea about what it looks like to extend grace to others.
Obviously, the first answer is that it looks like forgiveness. Christ’s forgiveness is the example, but the posture of my heart must be to understand and extend love and grace, not just fulfilling an obligation. We treat forgiveness like it’s just for ourselves sometimes, but it’s about something so much more. In a spiritual, prophetic sense we are releasing freedom over somebody else whether they choose to accept the extension of grace we show them.
Extending grace looks like giving somebody the benefit of the doubt. It’s easy to jump to conclusions. It’s easy to point the finger at somebody else. It takes courage to look past the issue and see the person. It’s courageous to confront and correct in love and grace rather than issuing a judgement. Start with the assumption that you might not have all the facts and that the person on the other side of the issue is just as important as anything else that may come up.
Extending grace looks like giving an offer of grace before it’s ever even needed. You’re more likely to extend grace to somebody who’s messed up if you’ve already decided that they, and the relationship you have with them, is worth that extension before any mess appears. Take a minute to think about those you’re in relationship with, either because you’ve chosen it or God has orchestrated it. Are there any preconceived judgements? Is there any reason you can’t decide right now that they get “a pass” over and over again should the time come? Decide now, and extend grace later. It’ll be easier.
Extending grace looks like you understanding that you might not fully understand and have all the information. Stephen Covey has his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and one of those is seek first to understand. Don’t let your pride and “need to be right” attitude get in the way of love and grace. Ask questions. Seek understanding. Whatever happened… well it happened for a reason. Perhaps the reason is better than you think. Perhaps you can help uproot fears, lies, and insecurities that created the issue and keep it from happening again. You can’t heal or help without love and grace however. Try and understand.
Extending grace looks like you coming to the realization that you’ll to receive their grace at some point down the road. It’s an equal playing field. We’ve all fallen short. That’s what Paul said and I’m quite sure that I may come up short in some of my relationships and interactions in the future. While I may be on the “right” side of this battle, knowing that there will most certainly be a day when I find myself on the “wrong” side should give me some extra motivation to extend grace. Do unto others… because you’ll want them to return the favor when it’s you in the middle of a mess.
Extending grace looks like knowing it’s never to late to extend grace. Perhaps you’re dealing with a problem or confrontation from the past. Old, deep wounds seem to cause the most pain. It’s chronic pain. Know that it is never to late to revisit a moment of unforgiveness or judgement and extend a little grace. Whether the pain is years, weeks, days, or hours old, grace is a balm that begins to heal. Back-up, reread your life story, and paste an extension of grace wherever it seems to be missing.
Extending grace looks like us keeping in mind that the Holy Spirit is who empowers us in our extensions of grace. For us as believers, we recognize that Christ dwells on the inside of us. His very Spirit resides in our hearts. The one who first extended grace to me lives inside every other believer. I want to extend grace to Christ in other people and the power to do that is already present. No matter how difficult it may seem, I’m supernaturally equipped to offer grace. I want to respect, honor, uplift, and draw out the Christ in somebody else with my actions and attitudes and words. I want to return the gift of grace to the Giver of grace in others.
I think we can do this. I think it’s imperative that the body of Christ begin to re-gift the greatest gift we were given. My prayer is that we will all walk in deeper unity, stronger authority, and a more powerful anointing. It starts with grace.