There is a difference between grace and gracious. I never knew this. I’ve heard God described as both giving grace and being gracious and I always thought they were just kind of interchangeable.
We as humans can be gracious. In fact, we are told to be gracious.
“Be gentle and sensitive with one another. Forgive one another as quickly and as thoroughly as Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:32 (The Message)
We can forgive and forget. We can love someone who is difficult to love. We can make sacrifices for someone who maybe wouldn’t do the same for us. This is all part of being gracious.
Oftentimes though I find that for me being gracious turns into being overly tolerant. It’s a slippery slope. How many times are you supposed to let the same person do the same thing to you and just be “gracious” towards them? How many times is it really possible to not only forgive but to also forget? I don’t know.
What I do know is that doing these things over and over is exhausting and frustrating. It’s hard to be genuinely gracious when you feel like really you’re just letting someone walk all over you. And being gracious isn’t really being gracious unless you can do it with a pure heart.
But I also know that God doesn’t ask us to be content with someone repeatedly taking advantage of us or making us feel inadequate. God just asks us to forgive. And I’m learning that you can forgive someone without putting yourself in the position for them to wrong you again.
This is where grace comes into play.
Grace is way more than graciousness. While gracious is something that we can be, grace is something we have already received because God paid the price. I can be gracious towards someone in a human capacity but it is not my responsibility to provide grace for anyone. What I need to worry about is accepting this grace for myself.
Accepting God’s grace prevents us from just being passively gracious. Being passively gracious I think way too often leads to settling for much less than you deserve. We are told that what we really deserve because of our sins is death, but that Christ took that punishment for us. Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell myself that I’m settling for something less than what I deserve, because I know that in reality I’ve already been given so much more than I deserve (life).
But when I really truly accept God’s grace I let go of these burdens. When I accept the gift of life that God has given me I realize he doesn’t want me to wear the weight of the shortcomings of others. He already took that weight on himself. God’s grace says that even though I am wholly imperfect, I am also loved, joyful, enough, fulfilled. Grace says that I deserve to feel these things, and am free to accept nothing less.
“My grace is enough, it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weaknesses.
Now the limitations that cut me down- abuse, accidents, oppression- I just let Christ take over. And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10