Archive for August 17th, 2006

Extra Grace Required

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Please read Ephesians 4:25-32 (NRSV) (The Message) out loud if possible.

As you read, consider these questions: What might God be saying to me in this passage? What jumps out at me? At the end of the reading, try to summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (David Squire):

Have you ever heard the term “extra grace required”, or EGR for short? It’s one of those snarky, quasi-”christian” terms, as in, “Gosh golly darn it, she’s such an EGR!” It means, of course, that she’s really hard to tolerate, so it requires me to express “extra grace”. I’ve only heard the term used when one Christian is talking about another.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with this picture, though, and today’s scripture grabs me by the lapels and gives me a shake. Especially verse 32, which instructs us to be “kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another…”

Am I really being kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving if I can think of someone else as an EGR? It implies that I think I need less grace then they do — which just isn’t true. I can be just as difficult to get along with as anyone. And do you know what? So can you.

That’s what I see in this passage: on our own, we’re all ornery people, prickly and fussy and self-centered and stubborn. And the only way we can make it in this life together is to understand how much we’ve been forgiven. If we really understand the depth of forgiveness we’ve received from God, we become humble. If I can see myself alongside my EGR sister, but from God’s point of view, well, then, I have no basis for putting myself above her. I have to forgive whatever it is about her that sets me off, “even as God in Christ has forgiven me.”

I can’t say that I’ve achieved this. Ask me, sometime, if you’re on my EGR list. :-) But I try to make a deliberate effort, when I’m tempted to demean someone as an “EGR”, to see the big picture again — we’re all “extra grace required”. The Message says especially well what I can do: “Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”

Thought for the day: God, remind me of how much grace I’ve received. Show me how to pass that on.

Today, let’s join together in prayer: Begin by picturing or naming the person who you consider most “EGR”. Ask God to show you ways to be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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