Extending Grace in Relationships


Dear Lord, So far I've done all right. I haven't gossipped, haven't lost my temper, haven't been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. I'm really glad about that.

But in a few minutes, God, I'm going to get out of bed. And from then on, I'm going to need a lot more help."

Ever felt like praying this prayer? I have! A candle, cup of tea and my Bible get me started off right. I've laid my burdens at Jesus' feet. I've read His words and they have ministered to my heart. I've worshiped Him. I have asked Him to change me, to help me grow, to bless my family and lead them. I'm sure it's going to be a wonderful day, and all is well with the world.

And then I get out of the chair.

And sometimes, it feels as if all is downhill from there!

Wouldn't motherhood, wifehood, even Christianity be much easier ... if there weren't any other people involved? But I suppose then we have the problem alluded to in that scene from It's a Wonderful Life, when the family's help says, "That (the noise happening upstairs) is why all children should be girls!" and then the elder Mrs. Bailey says, "But if they were all girls--oh, never mind!"

God loves relationships. He, Himself, exists as a relationship--Father, Son and Spirit, three in One--a mystery we can't wrap our minds around. We bear His image, and part of that is this need we have for relationships; to know and be known, to love well, to draw strength and learn from one another. Yet relationships are not easy. Sinful people, living together in a broken world, sometimes hurt one another. We misunderstand and are misunderstood. We struggle with pride and envy, greed and deceit. So do those around us--and our children are no exception.

We need God's grace.

"Giving the gift of grace to our children is actually a two-part process. First, we need to help our children receive grace. We do this both by extending grace to them and by teaching them about God's grace through salvation. After that, by our teaching and example, we must train our children to give grace to others in turn.

Jesus summed up this two-part process when He was asked to name the greatest commandment. He said we are first to love the Lord God with all our hearts (receiving grace) and then we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (giving grace). This commandment, therefore, sums up the first gift we can give to our children--the desire and ability to understand and receive the grace of God and to give it to the rest of the world.

Understanding the importance of the gift of grace has really helped me respond to the daily dilemmas and frustrations of life in a household of four children. As we go through our days, for instance, I try to be mindful that, to God, relationships are always a top priority. I try to think of ways I can model for my children the redemptive grace and love of Jesus--and also influence them to extend grace to others through their actions and their attitudes." ~ The Ministry of Motherhood

We will always be pressed by our relationships. My prayer is that they press us all closer to the heart of God, Who loves to extend His grace to us, and teaches us through His example to do the same.