“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found was blind but now I see.”
We’ve all heard the hymn, which teaches us how to give grace. It is played at nearly every solemn occasion in America and often accompanied with bagpipes. It’s about God’s grace!
Although the song is familiar, I wonder sometimes if people really understand what it is saying. After all, it is explicitly describing the gospel message and the grace of God.
In this article I’ll share more about God’s grace towards us and I’ll share how to give grace to others.
What Does It Mean To Give Grace
Grace is the gift of God’s unmerited favor toward us. Unmerited means that we have not and cannot earn it. The favor God is offering is eternal life with him.
Grace is offered to us for our salvation not to just make us better people. We can do nothing to deserve it and it is a free gift of God as Paul describes it in Ephesians 2:4-5.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions, it is by grace you have been saved.
Jesus Christ set the example.
Philippians 2: 6-8
Christ who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Just as God is gracious to us, so are we to be to others. This is a big challenge and not easily accomplished. Giving grace does not come naturally and we often need to go out of our way to find those opportunities.
Our natural response to others is normally egalitarian. We consider ourselves equal to our friends and acquaintances, and therefore don’t really expect to serve or be served by them.
But if we consider ways to show grace to those around us, we could be a great witness for God. Perhaps the following suggestions can inspire some ideas for you to take your Christian witness to the next level (read my article about Spending Time With God).
10 Ways You Can Give Grace To Others
1. Forgive and Don’t Hold Grudges
We all know people who hold grudges. It is not pleasant and it’s ungracious. It ruins relationships, splits families, and creates division.
Science even tells us that a person who holds a grudge against another is really hurting themselves the most (a detriment to physical and emotional health) although the person holding the grudge believes they are punishing the other person.
The opposite of holding a grudge because you’ve been wronged is to forgive. Of course, we all know it’s not always easy to forgive. But it is a very clear commandment that Jesus gives.
“How many times?” (should we forgive), Peter asked Jesus (Matthew 18:20-22).
Jesus’ answer was “70 x 7”!
And just like God who gives grace to us when we are undeserving, we shouldn’t be waiting to hear “I’m sorry”. We should be gracious and forgive even when there is no apology.
Have you heard the term “aggressive hospitality”? I only recently heard the reference during a sermon when our pastor was exhorting us to be more neighborly.
As he explained it at the time, Christians ought to take every opportunity to share their home with neighbors. For many hospitality is a lost art and seldom experienced (read why God’s timing is perfect).
If you think it would entail a big fancy meal you may not feel up to the task, however you can keep it simple. Invite folks over for dessert only or even a brief morning brunch.
Don’t wait for the house to be perfectly cleaned or decorated. Neighbors always appreciate being invited. Don’t you?
The “aggressive” part of hospitality is just that. Don’t wait for reciprocal invites. Just be gracious by inviting others and not be expecting to be invited back.
I suppose that contradicts some sort of etiquette, however this is different. You don’t need to be concerned about etiquette because your purpose is to get to know your neighbors and share the love of Christ with them.
Another method to this “aggressive hospitality” is to practice front yard living. This is merely setting up the front yard to be a place of socializing instead of retreating to the privacy of the back yard.
This is another way to share and be open to your neighbors thereby getting to know them better in order to find ways to be gracious with them.
3. Help Prior To Being Asked
The only way to accomplish this is to know people pretty well. If we do not take the time to get to know others around us, we cannot know of their needs or if they need help.
When we have spent time getting to know someone, we can then understand help they might need. If I know my neighbor just had surgery I would then offer to mow the lawn or take them a meal.
My husband frequently sees trash cans out too long and brings them in for the elderly lady down the street. Make a phone call from the store to find out what you can pick up for a friend who has their car in the shop.
4. Overlooking Slights
I’m not sure why but we can become very petty about a slight. It might come as a result of someone’s condescending tone (did you hear it right?), or from a failure of someone who didn’t wave at you (they probably didn’t see you).
In addition, it could have been a comment that was deemed inappropriate (was it just an ill-timed joke?).
These are just the kind of silly things that can cause the biggest problems in the church especially when people start gossiping about them. Overlooking a slight is always the gracious thing to do and chances are the individual who slighted you didn’t realize it so it’s best forgotten.
On the other hand, if it was meant it was probably forgotten by them as quickly (also read – tips to invite a friend to church).
5. Be Quick To Listen
This is not always easy. We like to give our opinions and frequently thinking of our own thoughts when we should be listening to the speaker.
Good listeners are gracious to the others in the conversation and are much appreciated. By showing grace to those who need to talk you are accomplishing quite a bit.
First of all, they notice it and are grateful for the attention. Second you are being unselfish, and finally you are modeling Christ to them. Strong conversation skills go a long way in communicating with others.
Learn how to draw people out. Get to know them better.
6. Go The Extra Mile
Once in a while folks will ask a favor. When they do be ready to find out what else you can help them with.
For example, a neighbor needs to borrow a rake. Maybe he or she needs a hoe too. Or help picking up the leaves and tossing them into the bin.
Perhaps they ask you to pick up something at the store and you can ask if they’d like to ride along. Find a way to be gracious by going the extra mile.
“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”
7. Volunteer For A Good Cause
There a plenty of worthy causes are in your neighborhood. Animal shelters, homeless shelters, pregnancy centers, and meals-on-wheels. There are also library reading opportunities, Big Brothers and Sisters, and tutor programs.
Helping those who cannot pay you back is demonstrating grace to them.
8. Gracious to the Stranger
At first glance you might think by stranger I mean a homeless person on the street or disabled car by the side of the road.
However I propose something else entirely. When my children have been far from home, usually in different countries, they always told me how much they appreciated the local people who would have them in for the holidays.
My daughter who was in the U.S. Navy was so thankful for the sponsors who would invite them for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner when she couldn’t get home (read my Bible reading plan for beginners).
And my oldest would frequently be invited into the homes of her college friends when it cost too much to fly home.
The church that we are attending now has an outreach where they plan a dinner once a month for foreign students. The statistics say that an extremely small percentage of students ever see the inside of an American home.
This is a group event so a few local families get together and invite 10-20 students over for an American potluck. The name of the group is International Student Ministries. They have a website and rejoice that the mission field has come to America.
9. Good Samaritan
Yes, the good Samaritan was gracious to the injured man at the side of the road. And the story doesn’t end with him asking for his money back.
He was gracious and generous. My husband and I were the recipients of grace by a German couple after we had had a car accident in Germany.
They immediately took us with our one year old daughter to their home and tried to help us calm down. Not knowing the language or the way police investigate in a foreign country can be devastating.
After things were cleared up they even drove us home. Perhaps you will never have this particular opportunity but it is possible that you can help someone who is down and out by serving in the soup kitchen or volunteering for the needy.
10. Graceful Speech
Paul says it in Colossians 4. Our conversation should be full of grace. Why?
So that we know how to answer everyone. People should notice that your speech is different and then they may want to know why.
At that moment Paul says we should be ready to answer. I’m not quite sure how we season our speech with salt but I’m sure he doesn’t mean “salty” language.
Perhaps salt represents truth so that when we speak we are clearly representing Christ. At any rate, watch your language and be obvious about your faith.
Scriptures: How To Give Grace
Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!…
Matthew 5:40 “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.”
Ephesians 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved.
Colossians 4:5-6 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Philippians 2: 6-8 Christ who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Grace is a big deal. God’s grace is the biggest of all. We are undeserving yet he has gifted us with salvation if we accept his free gift.
As a result of his example we are to practice grace to others. Pass it on and share it as we live out our earthly life.
I have listed 10 ways that can be a demonstration of your own practice of giving grace to others.
They address our speech, our actions, our responses and our unselfishness. There may be more but this is a good start. The Bible is full of references to God’s grace to us. It might be a good idea for a Bible study topic.
Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that can pardon and cleanse within, Grace grace God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all my sin.