Grace is Greater
“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God.” Hebrews 12:15a (NIV)
How difficult is it to push a button on the dishwasher? My vote is “not very,” but that isn’t the point. What made the whole thing ironic is that I was in the middle of writing a sermon on “happiness.” Let me explain …
My wife and I were staying at a condo we’d rented in Florida. We had to check out by 10 a.m. on Friday. Before checkout the renter is asked to do a few things: strip the sheets off the bed, put all the towels in the hallway, take out the trash, then load and start the dishwasher. My wife assigned me dishwasher duty. At about 10:05, an older man and a couple of women walked into the condo, spotted me, and said, “Ummm, we are here to clean. You were supposed to be out of here by 10.”
I apologized, thanked them and told them we were headed out the door. We grabbed our stuff and made our way down to the car. Just before we reached it, the guy came out of our room and yelled down to us in the parking lot, “Hey! Thanks a lot for starting the dishwasher. There’s only a few <BEEP> things you’re asked to do, and you couldn’t bring yourself to push the <BEEP> button?”
I’d just finished writing a sermon explaining that because we have God, our circumstances don’t have to rob us of joy. So, you might think I would respond humbly.
Instead, I thought, Oh, you want to overreact and get sarcastic? I can speak that language. I yelled up at him, “I’m so sorry you had to push that button. I’m sure that had to be exhausting,” and then laughed condescendingly. He yelled back at me, with a few more choice words, and I yelled back at him.
The last thing I heard is him calling me “a worthless <BEEP> <BEEP>.” I got in the car and slammed the door. I sat there steaming about how I’d been disrespected.
My wife said, “Let’s just go.” Instead of listening, I said, “Oh, no. That man needs to hear some hard truth.” I got out of the car, and then heard my wife tell me, “Say a quick prayer on your way up.”
I headed up the stairs to confront Mr. “Can’t push the button on the dishwasher in the condo but has plenty of energy to yell at me from the third-floor balcony.” After the first flight of stairs, I felt convicted and embarrassed. By the second floor, I was telling God I was sorry, and almost immediately it was impressed upon me that I needed to apologize and give the man a tip for his extra work. I opened my wallet, to realize I only had a single bill — which was more than I intended to give him. I thought, Well, apparently giving the man a tip is not what God wants me to do.
I walked into the condo, and he started yelling again. I sensed a voice inside me saying, One more round!
Even though I didn’t feel like it, I said, “I want to apologize. I’m sure it’s frustrating to come in and clean up after someone who doesn’t do the little things. I’m sorry. I want to give this to you for the extra work you have to do and as a way to say thank you.” I held out the money. Almost immediately his eyes welled up with tears. He said, “Well, I wasn’t expecting that,” and began to apologize. Now my eyes were filled with tears. I think we both wanted to hug it out, but instead we just shook hands.
I walked back down the steps, not feeling proud of that moment, but instead brokenhearted it had reached the point it did. I asked myself, How many similar moments had I forgotten about the wisdom from Hebrews 12:15, and missed God’s grace because of my pride?
I wondered: How many times had God wanted me to show grace and humility but I was too arrogant and self-righteous? I sat down in the car, teary-eyed. My wife asked, “What happened?” I told her. She patted me on the leg and said with a smile, “Oh, it’s so cute. You’re growing up.”
It was her playful way of letting me know she was proud of me, but the truth is, when it comes to extending grace over the little things, I should’ve grown up a long time ago.
Maybe you’ve heard countless sermons about grace. Or even read books about grace. But my prayer is that you’ll see this word again for the first time. I tend to think grace is best and most fully understood not by way of explanation alone, but through experience. Otherwise, it really doesn’t have much effect.
I’ve sat through several seminary classes on the subject of grace. I’ve memorized Bible verses that describe grace. But what’s taught me the most? My own story and the stories of others who’ve fully experienced grace.
It’s my prayer you won’t miss grace, but rather will powerfully experience the grace effect in your life — and no matter what you have done, no matter what has been done to you, you will personally experience the truth that grace is greater.
Lord, I am amazed by Your grace in my life. Help me see, understand and be overwhelmed by Your grace again, as I was the first time. Help me to not simply comprehend Your grace, but live it and give it to others. Enable me even today to extend grace to those around me at work, school, home or church, throughout my community. Lord, Your grace is greater than my hurts, mistakes and circumstances. I am grateful. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:28, “May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In your life, around what hurt or mistake or circumstance do you need to declare: Grace is greater? With that in mind, how will you look past your pain and give grace?