Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. Psalm 25:8
Peter came and said to Jesus, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22
Is it your rude and grumpy next-door-neighbor? Perhaps a petty and unkind co-worker. It might be a very close family member. Possibly an unkind and unloving teacher comes to mind. Most everyone can identify at least one person who is an Extra Grace Required (EGR) person.
There are two problems with EGR’s. One is their drain on us. If people require extra grace, it truly does exhaust us. We run out of compassion. We lose sight of the possible reasons for their troubling and challenging demands. One person always complains. Another always finds fault. Someone tries to find ways to cause trouble. Still another never tires of accusing you of doing wrong.
The other problem with EGRs is how we learn to see them. They become EGRs and not people in their own right. We make them into projects – people to fix – or troublemakers – people to avoid. We don’t see them for who they are.
I recently learned about a Chic-Fil-A training video. It pictures people coming into the restaurant, each with a thought bubble above his or her head superimposed in the video frame. One says, “I just lost my job and my wife doesn’t know about it yet.” Another reads, “I just heard that my child is acting out badly at school.” Still another: “I just came from the vet and my dog isn’t going to make it.”
There is never truly an excuse for sin. When we do wrong, we cannot undo the harm we’ve inflicted by saying, “I’m sorry, but I just learned that my bank account is overdrawn and I don’t have any money.” But Jesus calls us to forgive our brother or sister in Christ who sins against us – even if they come to us seventy-seven times asking for forgiveness.
“Fool me once, shame on you,” they say. “Fool me twice, shame on me.” That message says wee must not get taken in by someone who sins against us more than once. Any honest person would have to admit that they would never wish to be judged by such a standard. Who hasn’t sinned more than once against another?
Everyone has a bubble. Everyone has a story. Everyone needs grace. Truth is we all need extra grace. Thank God his grace abounds ever more – and even more than our sin.