It had been a long day when I finally pulled into the garage. Training on the new route had taken at least two hours longer than I anticipated, but I was strangely undisturbed by the delay and the day was not unpleasant despite the anger and frustration expressed by a colleague who felt she had been wronged by her superior. I had prayed for patience and grace on the way to work that morning and I felt blessed with a peace and patience that was beyond my own abilities.
On the way home I had thought about the situation in which I found myself that day. Recent route changes had left the colleague with whom I had worked that day in a much better job position; however, it was at the unfortunate expense of another, and while she was grateful for the blessings that had come her way and felt bad for her co-worker who had lost a potential position, she had no grace to offer when her new position was more difficult than she had anticipated. She felt mistreated and would not even consider the possibility that her superior had made some changes with her best interest in mind.
One of the comments made that day when I suggested that perhaps she should give her superior the benefit of the doubt was, “why should I cut him slack when he’s not going to cut me any?” I thought about that for a moment. It is easy to offer grace to those we feel deserve it or to those who offer us grace in return, but perhaps grace and forgiveness go together when we must offer understanding, compassion, and a helping hand to someone who we feel has given us nothing but grief when they had the opportunity to extend grace. Sometimes perhaps we are blinded to the grace and goodwill they have offered.
As I traveled home that day, I marveled at the extra measure of patience I had been given to accommodate, tolerate, and even enjoy the company of one who had no grace to offer another, and I realized that God has grace for the graceless as well as the wounded and wronged.
Life is often unfair and most of us have deep empathy for those whom we feel have been treated unjustly. We easily offer them compassion because most of us feel that we also have been the victim of injustice and have felt the weight of life’s unfairness at some time or another. And it is so easy to give grace to those who have given us grace – those who have been patient with us and forgiven our selfish deeds and unintentional wrongs.
But how do we treat those who have no grace to offer? How do we treat those who are prideful and feel they are never wrong – or never admit or remember when they have needed unmerited favor and forgiveness? How do we treat those who have a victim mentality and always feel they have been treated unfairly and never consider that they may have also wronged others; those who have built a selfish shield around themselves that must always protect self and is never willing to accommodate or forgive for fear they will be wronged?
Can we see past a selfish, sinful, heart – past our own selfish, sinful, heart – to see a human heart? Can we offer grace to the graceless; to those who may never give grace in return? We don’t offer grace because we of what we might receive or what might be extended to others; we offer grace because we’ve already been given that unmerited favor that we will never earn nor can never return. We offer grace because we’ve already been given saving grace; we’ve been given grace beyond measure. Should we have grace for the graceless? Most definitely!