Christmas is the season that we celebrate the birth of one by giving gifts to others. It’s kind of a unique way to celebrate a birthday actually. Typically when there is a birthday celebration, we give gifts to the one we are celebrating.
So what should that look like for Christmas? How would we give a gift to Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate?
By giving away the very gift He gave us… grace.
We Christians seems to be short grace all too often. Of course Jesus tells the story of the unforgiving servant who was shown grace but did not in turn show grace to another. But this story was about a financial debt and the story is there as analogy to the high debt Jesus would eventually pay for our freedom. But the kind of grace I am talking about is more about relationships than finances.
We see in 2 Timothy, near the end of Paul’s life, that many supposed Christians had begun to turn their back on Paul. He had been in chains for so long by this time, that some perhaps began to believe the charges against him. We can hear the sadness in Paul’s tone in this letter and see it in black and white.
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner.” (2 Tim 1:8) Paul knows that many have turned away and he is feeling that absence. Few are showing him grace at this time. He even gets specific about this abandonment with this statement. “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes.” (v 15) Then to point out just how forgotten he has become, he says that when Onesiphorus “arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me” (v 17). Onesiphorus had to search for him because the believers there had basically forgotten about Paul.
The proper model of grace and forgiveness is also modeled by Paul. Just a few chapters later in the same letter, Paul says “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.” (2 Tim 4:11). Mark is the one whom Paul felt had abandoned their earlier mission. His disappointment in Mark was so strong that it eventually led to the parting of ways between Paul and Barnabus. Yet later in Paul’s ministry we see that Paul had extended grace to Mark in some way at some point… so much so that he says Mark is very useful to me for ministry.
Forgiveness and grace are powerful things. What relationships do you have where you need to extend grace? Extending grace does not mean you through away any knowledge or growth gained through a conflict. But it does mean that you no longer hold that conflict against the person.
This Christmas, give Jesus the ultimate gift by extending His grace to others.