We are often inconsistent about grace, aren’t we? Think of those times when you, or someone you know, have been hurt by someone at work, or at church, or by a good friend. Our righteous indignation kicks in at the injustice of it all. Where is the compassion, we wonder—where’s the grace? the kindness? We complain loudly about how we are treated—and then we tend to write the Offender off as persona non grata.
The Offender no longer exists.
Ironically, we withhold the very thing we wanted from the Offender. We wanted grace. We wanted understanding. We wanted forgiveness when we screwed up. We wanted kindness. We didn’t get it. So now, we are going to be certain that the Offender never gets it from us. I hate to say it, but I see the worst of this in three groups: Those who’ve been offended by judgmental parents, by a boss, or by a church. The plaintiff, in each of these circumstances, becomes a “withholder.” I’ve done it myself more than I care to admit. It goes like this: You offend me. I wanted grace or kindness. I didn’t get it. So now, I’m withholding mine from you. I’m taking all my toys and leaving. I’m taking my grace. My kindness. My forgiveness. My love. You aren’t getting any of it because you are a jerk! You don’t deserve it.
And when I do this…I become like the very person or situation that offended me in the first place. Grace goes both ways. We want to receive grace, but sometimes we don’t. In those times, all we can do if we are to hang on to any shred of integrity is to offer grace. That is the nature of grace. It is undeserved. If we fail to do so, we simply become a different version of the Offender.