*"Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God's love for us."* Romans 5:8, GWV.
*"Live in love as Christ also loved us. He gave his life for us as an offering and sacrifice, a soothing aroma to God."* Ephesians 5:2, GWV.
Yesterday I wrote to you about grace, I mentioned that there are three aspects that make up this quality. The first is that it is a "gift," given freely, with no strings attached or motive to be repaid. The second is that it is a "love" that is expressed when we are unlovely and selfish. The third is that it is a "welcoming" that brings us near even though we may be or feel unworthy.
Today I want to focus on the second aspect of grace. Love for the unloveable and unloving. Jesus lived this lifestyle. Going primarily to the outcasts of his generation, he loved those who nobody else would love. If you think about many of His conversations, confrontations, and healings, it was to those who were uncared for, especially by the religious community.
Jesus' teaching on loving our enemies, rises from this concept of grace. Loving the lovable is easy and takes no heart. When we have to go beyond our love boundaries, we give and truly experience grace. Take a look:
*"But I tell you this: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. In this way you show that you are children of your Father in heaven. He makes his sun rise on people whether they are good or evil. He lets rain fall on them whether they are just or unjust. If you love those who love you, do you deserve a reward? Even the tax collectors do that! Are you doing anything remarkable if you welcome only your friends? Everyone does that! That is why you must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."* Matthew 5:44-48, GWV.
The reality is that this cannot be done in our humanness. Gracing the unloveable and even our enemies takes us seeing ourselves as "the graced." While we were unloveable, Christ gave Himself for us. It is only as we understand and receive this great grace that we will begin to extend it to others. When we withhold grace to others it is because we do not truly understand the magnitude of the grace that was extended to us.
Take a moment out today to receive the great and loving grace of God for yourself. Now think of those you have withheld loving grace from. Pray for them now.