Grace Has a Huge Merciful Heart
Grace is small enough to live in my heart; yet, grace is large enough to be shared with other human beings. Most human beings practice some form of grace. But to us, who follow Christ, the journey of grace and in grace is enduring sacrificial work. Jesus, our Lord, commanded us to love even our unlovable enemies. Genuine true grace is impartial and treats everyone equally and the same, as Jesus did and so does God our Heavenly Father.
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends his rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
Grace Is Manifested in good Manners and in good Deeds
How do I know whether the grace of God is in me? Jesus gave us these manifestations and attributes of grace when He gave us “The Beatitudes” in The Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteouness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 84:3-16).
How can One be Blessed facing Persecution and Death?
Persecution and death is no paradox or mystery to me and neither was not to my parents. We survived the harshness of World War II by maintaining a poor spirit. The words “poor in spirit” does not only mean destitution or dependence on divine intervention, but “poor in spirit” is an attitude of nonresistance and the willingness to avoid facing evil forces by escaping from the sword. We were blessed because there was such a place where we were safe. During this time, we employed grace by being gracious to get us to safety. But, for our children and grandchildren in the USA, there are no more places they can flee to. They are approaching a time when people shall wish to die, but will not be able (Revelation 9:1-6).
Jesus did not resist the evil leaders who wanted His life! Jesus let them have His life for the “atonement of their sins” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; I Timothy 2:5-6). And Jesus expected no less from his beloved disciple and from Peter (I John 3:16; I Peter 3:17-8). Dying for what is right and just is dying for each other and for Christ, and it is the straight way back to God and heaven. Those who do, do not even have to wait for the “Resurrection” (Revelation 6:9-11). For Jesus, the Son of God, death marked His departure from this earthly life and a return to His heavenly abode. Jesus’ followers are promised the same resting place, after they have earned their blessings by leaving their marks of grace in the world. It is only in this life that they/we can acclaim and extol the name of Christ. And only Christ alone can secure us an eternal residency for our spirits (Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8; John 14:1-3). Our Apostle Paul, whom the Romans shipped off to join the martyrs, wrote these words for us:
Therefore, my beloved, as you always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me (Philippians 2:12-18).
Will Evil People Be Impressed with Our Good Deeds?
Jesus, his twelfth disciple, and Paul believe that the world will take notice. In some places in the world, people may appreciate good manners and deeds. I, however, have experienced that I was disliked and even hated for being and doing a little better than their standards, which bordered on evil. Christians, too, are envious and jealous of each other. For a long time, I too had ill feelings for those who were doing better than I did. I too was afraid that they would disturb my belief and upset my applecart. The world will not mark us favorably for doing right, but the Lord will on His chart. We now live in a world, if we put out our heads for a second slap, we may well lose our heads to the sword. Under three regimes, we lived “The Sermon on the Mount” out of necessity. It proved very beneficial for staying alive. Like Paul, we do not dare to put coals on the fire:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any one would sue you to take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you (Matthew 5:38-42).
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).
During Violent Times, Be Slow On Grace
We lived in countries, where one had to avoid being friendly or kind to a stranger, or gather in groups, and not being suspected of subversive activity against the party and the state. When World War II began, even family gatherings were suspended and many people were put in jails and holding areas. The Western World, and in particular the USA, are seeing the beginning of similar trends. Christians are being banned from large gatherings and from participating in the government of their countries. For instance, being against the democratic party is the same as being against the USA? Who would have ever though that we or I would face another time when being gracious in the name of Christ would be outlawed? There was a time, in this country, when Jesus’ suggestion was nearing reality.
He (Jesus) said to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now read.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them, I pray you, excuse me.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the servant came and reported this to his master.
Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet” (Luke 14:12-24).