As Christians, we must let go of bitterness and show others grace.
As human beings, when someone has wronged us, we don’t naturally err toward grace. Instead, we err toward judgment, bitterness, or self-righteousness. In our minds, we have a right to hold this against them; immediately turning around and meeting their mistakes with grace is a feat that seems almost inconceivable.
Recently, I found myself in a situation where I was incredibly angry with someone I felt had wronged me and my family in inexcusable ways. I told myself I would still try to be kind and pray for the person, but it felt begrudging and empty every time I did. I couldn’t push past the blockade of bitterness and resentment that I’d set up against them; it felt impossible. The more I thought about it, the more I realized my own self-righteous nature. How, in my mind, did I justify believing the person didn’t deserve to be forgiven for what they’d done? Why did I think I could judge them and look down on them? Why did I feel I was better than them when I knew full well that I had hurt people just as much as anyone else?
The truth, I realized, is that God has given me way more grace than I ever deserved. The weight of my sin would have crushed me, burying me beneath layers of guilt, shame, and brokenness, if it weren’t for the grace of my Savior. So where do I get off thinking I can withhold grace from someone when I only have a future because of God’s grace for me?
James 4 talks about the danger of being too wrapped up in the world, its desires, and the pain that can come from that. Then you have verse 6, which says, “But He gives more grace.” It feels almost out of place because it’s so incomprehensible that God would still find MORE grace to give us after everything we've done. The verse continues: “Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Self-righteousness in judging others is a spirit of pride. But a spirit of humility asks for more grace to view them through God’s eyes because we understand the depth of His grace for us. Now, whenever I think of that person and those unpleasant feelings about them start to arise, I repeat the phrase “more grace” over and over in my mind, asking God to give me the kind of patience and love for them that only He can.
So no, maybe we don’t have a natural bent toward grace when it comes to the way we treat people who have wronged us. But those are the times when we ask God for MORE GRACE: grace far beyond our human capacity. The kind of undeserved grace that He gives every one of us.