Grace = In it for the long haul

Yeah, I’m using all this “long haul” language lately to imply a connection.

See, a wise woman once told me “Grace always costs the giver.

You can’t actually love someone and not invest something of yourself that you’ll never get back. That’s going to affect your time, your attention, your wallet.

Because Love believes/hopes/endures all things, it’s going to be taken advantage of. You’re going to be out there someday, pouring yourself into some human being, and suddenly realize you’re getting screwed. Totally screwed. And your reaction – at that moment – will show you whether you truly understand that love will always cost something to give.

In fact, I think the way we handle God’s love toward us is Exhibit A for “love is willing to be made a fool of for the sake of the one being loved.”  We don’t have a Savior who gets partway into the mess and then backs out because “this is too much.”  Jesus loved us before we loved Him. He went to the Cross when we were still filthy.

Even now, I’m an unappreciative saved-sinner.  I take God for granted all the time. I forget His good deeds in past days. I doubt His word. I accuse Him of being unfair, not listening, uncaring, uninvolved.  Basically, I gobble up the love of God because I know He’s not going to stop giving it…. so I gorge on His Grace. It’s pretty ugly.

What makes us think our human efforts to live the Gospel with our hands and feet will be any less….frustrating?

At the end of the day, you’re asked to love God as hard as you can all the time with everything you’ve got, and love your neighbor as you love yourself. That’s it. *coughs* impossible *coughs*

Please love God with your time. It takes a lot of time to bring a kid who’s education is deficient up to par, and you probably have enough education in your back pocket to make a difference if you’d spend a little time reading or tutoring or working algebra problems or in a classroom as a helper. Or go volunteer at hospice. Or a shelter. Or change the oil in a single mom’s car.

With your money. Like, skip the Starbucks and donate it to someone who actually needs $4 because otherwise they won’t have lunch today. (Preaching to myself on this one – I waste money on unnecessary coffee.)

And if you’re one of the blessed ones who can afford your mortgage payment and your cars and health insurance and money for your kids to play 3 sports…. I’ve got some people in mind that you could help get into a house or get a car or find an apartment. 🙂

With your attention — because there are so many people around you who, right now, need some attention from you — a kind word, an invitation for their kid to come play with yours so a single parent gets a break, an encouragement to someone who’s trudging. Kids especially benefit so much from having adult mentors. But don’t forget that the entire structure of the Church is supposed to be organized by mentoring relationships (see Titus 2).

With open-hearted, un-judgmental love. The Holy Spirit can take care of His job all by Himself. I’ve rarely ever run into someone doing “something wrong” (genuinely, biblically wrong – not just breaking cultural taboos) who didn’t already realize they were sinning. People don’t need you to tell them they’re wrong. They need you to offer a hand up so they can get stable enough that change even seems possible.

Listen 10x more than you speak. Grace works through acts of quiet service, through the gift of just the right thing at just the right moment (after all, “grace” just means “gift”).

Love people when you’re too frustrated to want to do it any more, when you have to grit your teeth and keep going.

Love people when it’s hella inconvenient. Because if it’s not inconveniencing you somehow, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Love people when they break your stuff or use up your resources or keep calling when you’re tired of hearing from them already.

Love people even when you figure this is going to be a bad idea because you’re going to “lose” in the end or get taken advantage of or even swindled.

Love people when they walk away from you — you don’t have to “clutch” people. Let the  Spirit do His work. People know real love when they see it, and they’ll be back….eventually.

Love the person in front of you. It’s not like you got to go to some foreign land to get the job done.

I don’t know how to revel in the Grace that costs me something to give. Maybe that’s what I’m supposed to be learning….

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