This is the third in a series of posts filling in the blank to “Grace is ____.”
Grace is profoundly personal and intimate. Impersonal and distant grace is a contradiction in terms.
Now when I say it is personal and intimate I don’t mean in a romantic way. I mean that the costs of giving it and the effect of receiving it are strongly felt by both the giver and the recipient.
Grace is always intimate for the giver because it always costs to give. If grace is to be given in forgiveness for an offense, the hurt and pain of the offense must be absorbed by the offended person. If grace is to be shown to someone who cost you money or business, then the loss needs to be eaten.
The king in the parable of the Unmerciful Servant in Matthew 18:21-26 had to be willing to accept the loss of millions of dollars to offer forgiveness to his servant.
Hosea needed to be willing not only to forgive but to pay to get his wife Gomer back who had left him and gone into prostitution and to accept the social awkwardness and questions that would raise with his family, neighbors, and co-workers (Hosea 3:1-5).
For God to forgive us He had to be willing to give His Son to pay the price for our sins (John 3:16).
Real grace is not cheap. As the saying goes, “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” While there may not be any cost to the person eating the lunch, someone has to pay the cost for the lunch to be offered. In this sense, grace is never free. It always costs the giver. The greater the grace, the greater the cost. For that reason, giving grace is one of the most personal and intimate acts of love a person can give to another. It cannot be done nonchalantly or flippantly, it requires too much sacrifice.
Grace is always intimate for the recipient because it heals, restores, and sets free. Grace always hits us right where we live, right where we hurt the most. It removes guilt and cuts the roots of shame. It frees from debts, revives the soul, restores relationships, and heals the broken.
When Jesus showed grace to the paralytic in Mark 2:3-13 he was forgiven and could walk for the first time.
When Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery in John 8:2-11, He not only forgave her, He saved her life.
Jesus healed the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19 they were not only physically healed but they could go home to their families and rejoin their community and work.
When grace is given, its effects are profoundly personal; and the greater the grace the more profound and intimate its effects on the receiver. You cannot be freed from debt, guilt, trouble, obligation, or disease at no cost to you without being personally and intimately effected.