Today, I’m trying something new, and am going to share a post about life: unmasked, a blog meme started by Joy, a new writer I’ve come across recently.
When I’m not busy at work, and I can’t find more work to do, I fill that time with blogs. I find that most of what I choose to read preaches the gospel clearly, giving me strength to keep pressing on at work when it gets hectic, and gives me the ability to continue to extend grace to people by bringing to the forefront of my mind the grace I have been extended in salvation. But, today I read something that really made me question what “giving grace” is really all about.
One of the blogs I’ve started following lately is A Deeper Story, which is comprised of several authors telling us their stories of life, and how those stories are really only a small part of a bigger and deeper story. Today, I read a very authentic, honest post written by Mandy, about a time when she was really craving a cigarette. I would highly recommend reading that for yourself to get the full story, and better perspective.
Toward the end of the story, Mandy’s husband, Tony, is asked by a stranger if he has any cigarettes. He doesn’t, but gives the stranger money to buy some. Later on when Mandy and Tony were discussing this event, Tony says “Grace is not about giving people what we want them to want.”
Stop, and think about that for a minute. This is really weird for me because I grew up with a grandfather who smoked. I love him to death, but whenever I think of smoking, I flash back to those half hour car rides to his farm when I basically held my breath the entire trip because he smoked in the car. In that moment, the most gracious thing I would have thought anyone could do would be to take the pack of cigarettes and throw them out the window. Gracious to him, and to me.
I’ve always seen grace as giving someone what would really be in their best interest, even if they don’t know it and/or don’t want it. Were I in Tony’s position, with good intentions, I would have told the stranger that I didn’t have any cigarettes, and hoped that he wouldn’t find any, so he could break the habit. While the intent might be driven in love for the well-being of another person, is that really giving grace? Or is it simply me trying to take matters into my own hands, trying to be the addiction-freeing agent that is only found in Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit?
What if giving grace is giving people room to make mistakes, and being intentional on “allowing” God to do the work of freeing that person, or not?
I confess, I don’t have any answers here. Where do we draw the line between what is “giving grace” and what is “enabling addiction and/or sin”? As Christians, we have to speak truth into the lives of the broken, addicted, abandoned, and lost. We are commanded to proclaim the freeing power of the gospel to these people, but also to constantly remember that we were these people. And to a degree, we still are.
So, this is the question I put before you to think about, comment about, and pray about: What does it really mean to extend grace to someone?