“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning (day after day, month after month, year after year); great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
It is almost shocking that these beautiful and hopeful words are found in a book titled Lamentations which is a collection of poems written from a heart of despair and a soul full of grief over Israel’s rebellion and exile. But here in Chapter 3, the writer reminds God’s people that even when they — individually and collectively — are at their lowest point, God’s promises still hold true. While we are fickle and unfaithful, God is not. And His mercies are “new every morning.”
As followers of Jesus Christ, we constantly and continuously walk in grace. Moment by moment — all-encompassing — grace. Biblical “grace” is the undeserved favor of God that is ours not because of anything we do but because of everything Christ did. He lived a sinless life. He died a sinner’s death. He resurrected and conquered the grave. He alone deserves God’s favor forever, but SHARES it with all who call upon his name:
Oh, the unsearchable riches of Christ,
Wealth that can never be told!
Riches exhaustless of mercy and grace,
Precious, more precious than gold!
(Frances J. Crosby, 1882)
I think we tend to view God’s grace like a full cup that gets emptied out over time and when it’s empty, we better prepare for His punishment. Why do we have this misconception? Because this is how we often deal with one another. We’re willing to extend grace and forgiveness — to a point. But when someone crosses that line then watch out!
I recently spoke with a friendly-looking fellow customer in a parking lot about how he got revenge on someone who hit his truck with their shopping cart. When he confronted this person for her careless actions, she responded in anger which only increased his. When the woman went into the store, he put rocks in her tire caps so all the air went out and then he parked across the street and watched in amusement as she discovered her four flat tires and had to call a tow truck. I never smiled once during his story and continued to shake my head with each new detail. I could tell he was waiting for me to agree with his actions, but they only saddened me. When I began to tell him about a better way to deal with what we consider inexcusable behavior, he quickly got in his truck and drove away. Revenge is a soul killer. Misery only begets misery. How different is grace!
Grace disarms revenge with forgiveness.
Grace extinguishes wrath with love.
Grace defeats evil with kindness.
But grace is not easy. And it does not come cheap. It will cost you something. Your pride. Your comfort. Your expectations. Maybe even your life. But it is the ONLY thing that can conquer sin and death and that is why Christ gives it to us in an inexhaustible supply so that we can give it freely to others.
“Freely you have received. Freely give." Matthew 10:8
Tensions are definitely high all around the world and anger seems to be boiling just under the surface. Will Christians respond just like everyone else? Sure, we are also tired of mandates and lockdowns, quarantines, and masks. Our nerves are frayed. We’re also anxious about all of the uncertainty in the world. We feel the tension. We are not immune to apprehension and doubt and worrying about the direction the world is going. We are also on constant guard over our children and families. We feel defensive…ready to fight. At a time like this, we must remember:
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
People are not our enemy. All people, made in the image of God, need God’s grace and we, God’s ambassadors, are called to show it, declare it, and give it away so that others might be saved and join us in proclaiming His kingdom.
Perhaps at the end of a difficult and trying year and at the very beginning of another uncertain one, it's time for a reset of our wills — a time for praying as Jesus Himself did, “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) And as we continue to walk in the goodness and safety of God’s morning after morning mercies, may they overflow from our lives and into the lives of those around us.