Kinder than Necessary
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Kinder than is necessary-it’s just another way of describing grace. It’s a phrase that has been running through my head more often than not, lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been on the receiving end. Receiving grace makes me want to give it- not as a payback, but as an act of gratitude. Those little kindnesses from other people, unexpected, no strings attached, just because…they humble me. They remind me of a bigger picture of grace, as displayed in the gospel.
Humility and grace seem to go hand in hand. I don’t think we can even be aware of grace without humility- because as soon as a kindness offered is perceived as our due or something we’ll need to pay back, it’s no longer grace we’re talking about. It’s a transaction. Romans 11:6
The quote at the top, from R.J. Palacio, comes from one of my favorite children’s books that I ever read with my son. Wonder, if you haven’t read it, is a story about a middle school boy named Auggie, who has a severe facial deformity, and who is attending school for the first time. The story is from different viewpoints- Auggie, his family, friends, and classmates. A big idea in the story is about kindness- not just the polite, what’s expected of us sort of kindness, but that sort of kindness which goes above and beyond, the kind that changes hearts…the kind that changes the world. It changes everyone in the story. Though it’s secular, the book is a beautiful picture of the power behind grace.
I do believe that in grace, we see the face of God. Grace is pure love, and the author, the originator, is God. James 1:17-21 Grace is most perfectly displayed in the story of the Gospel. Once, in humility, we’re aware of what we’ve received, we can’t help but want to pass it along, to live it out in our own lives. As Christians, when we don’t extend grace, we’re probably not living in humility. We’re probably not living with a true awareness of the grace that has already been given to us. 1 John 4:8
Sometimes we forget. We forget and we need to be reminded. More than words, sometimes the best reminder is to be on the receiving end a smaller kindness, one extended by another person. God uses us to this end when we extend grace to others. By being kinder than is necessary, we pass along the grace we’ve been given. It has a ripple effect that continues on, more than we’ll ever know. Put someone else on the receiving end of grace. We can’t control how it’s received, but we can offer it up as a gift, in obedience and love towards God, trusting that he will use it for his good purposes.