Weekly message from Cypress Church: The gift of grace and forgiveness

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 3:13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

My wife and I were out braving the malls to take in a movie this past week. The parking lot was packed, cars and people everywhere. I got so caught up in the action, I accidentally did not stop when I should have. But people were gracious and forgiving as I mouthed “Sorry” and waved. It was nice and made me feel a bit of the Christmas love and kindness. As we rounded a corner, two ladies were walking across a busy lane to get to their car. People were stopped, but one guy kept edging forward a little. The older of the two ladies whipped her head around and gave the guy a mean stare and actually slowed her pace as she smugly cocked her head up. Once she passed the edging forward guy, he sped off and she just stopped, blocking traffic as she raised her shopping bag laden arms in disgust. She started talking, saying something about how she can’t believe how rude people are these days. I’m guessing she did not feel her actions fit her definition of ‘rude.’ Well, I drove on and it was tough to find a parking space. I saw one on the next lane and got so caught up in getting that space, I almost bumped into another car. I had stopped in plenty of time, but they honked the horn, yelled some expletives at me and made some hand gestures. I again mouthed ‘Sorry’, and felt really bad because I am a really good, conscientious driver, but I was so distracted as I rarely go to the mall. But they kept yelling and took their time so that I couldn’t get to that space. Someone else got that open space. We finally found someone just leaving and waited. They were all smiles and seemed to hurry as they packed up kids, grandparents and packages. We waved at each other as they left. I thought, wow, what differences we experienced in our parking lot adventure. Those that offered grace and forgiveness gave us a wonderful gift.

Actually, God asks us to give these gifts of grace and forgiveness.

Giving the gift of Grace (grace meaning being kind and giving regardless of the circumstances):

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear

Romans 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.

Giving the gift of Forgiveness (forgiveness meaning letting go of hurt and pain we feel):

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

1 Peter 3:9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to Him (Jesus), “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

“Seventy-seven times” is an expression meaning continually. It’s not that we are unwise and put ourselves in a place where we get abused or taken advantage of, but that we let go of the hurt and pain we feel. Jesus went on to describe continual forgiveness in Matthew 18:23-35.

Grace and forgiveness are tough gifts to give, but they are so life-changing, not only for ourselves, but for the people we encounter. Why not seek to be more intentional with these gifts? There will be instances, either at the mall or with family or at work or school, or out shopping, or driving around town, where people are distracted and make mistakes. Be gracious. Be forgiving. You will give a gift to yourself and to others.

Church is a wonderful place to learn about God’s grace and forgiveness. If you don’t have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches. Every Sunday this Christmas season we will be speaking of the great, life-giving gift Jesus is to life. We would love for you to join us. Our website has more information: http://www.cypresschurch.net. You can even attend one of our live-streaming services (see http://live.cypresschurch.net/).