Forgive as the Lord forgave you. –Colossians 3:13b
It was reported in Isaac Asimov’s Book of Facts that following the Civil War, Jefferson Davis was captured and indicted for treason. Though many Northerners called for Davis’ execution, one group petitioned for his release. The group? The former slaves from Davis’ cotton plantation. Following a two-year imprisonment, Davis was freed, having avoided a trial.
In the above anecdote from the Civil War era, we see both grace and mercy at work on Davis’ behalf, being extended by his former slaves. A basic explanation of the concepts of mercy and grace is as follows: Grace is receiving something beneficial that we don’t deserve and mercy is not receiving some negative consequence for what we do deserve.
Whether these former slaves were followers of Christ or not, they demonstrated the same kind of mercy and grace that God has displayed toward us through Christ Jesus — and the same kind of grace that we are to extend to others.
Through our own sin, we deserve the wrath of God. Through the mercy and grace demonstrated on our behalf through Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have been forgiven and freed from the penalty of sin — and beyond that — we have received the great blessings of being adopted into the family of God. In return, God asks us to extend mercy and grace to others (see Matthew 6:14-15) As Christians, we talk a lot about the concepts of mercy and grace. But the truth of the matter is that we show whether or not we really understand mercy and grace through our lives. The bottom line is this: Do we extend mercy and grace to others? If not, according to Jesus, we really don’t get it.
Has someone mistreated you? Have you suffered injustice from someone or some institution in our society? If so, I urge you — as difficult as it may be — extend God’s mercy and grace: forgive even as the Lord has forgiven you.
1. What do you find most difficult about forgiving others? What difference does God’s forgiveness in your own life make in your ability to forgive others?
2. Who can you extend mercy and grace to today?
Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 17:4; Ephesians 1:1-8; 2:4