Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:23-24
As we come to the closing words of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I’d like to touch on the idea of just how gracious we have to be in order to be “gracious enough.” Just how much grace has God shown to us? And how much grace does He want us to show to others?
One of my favorite quotes on this topic goes like this:
“Sometimes you have to be overly gracious in order to be gracious enough.”
When I think of that quote, I think of a woman named Jean. Jean is a business woman from England whom we met on a missions trip a few years ago. She helped us out shortly after that trip by coming to a retreat center we’re renovating here in Illinois called Clover Ranch. She came to help us with some interior decorating.
But when she arrived, it became clear that the house needed much more than a coat of paint and some pretty pictures. While she was taking a bath one day, the pipes burst in the upstairs bathroom, pouring water down into the kitchen below. While replacing those pipes, it became clear that the wiring had to be redone as well. We ended up gutting both the bathroom and the kitchen entirely, starting again from scratch. Then the rain came and we realized that water was coming in around many of the old windows and they would have to be replaced before we could even think about any interior decorating. The house was a mess and she hadn’t even gotten to start on what she initially came to do.
In spite of all of this, Jean was a trooper. We invited her to stay in our own home during all of this, but like the loyal captain of a ship, she wanted to stay with her vessel. She continued to live at Clover Ranch, without a functional kitchen or bathroom, except for a sink and a shower stall in the basement, and accompanied by a host of crickets and spiders and other creatures that seemed to thrive in the chaos of the reconstruction.
Through it all, Jean was not just gracious. She was overly gracious. She talked about how thankful she was to be out in the country, to have time to think and pray, and to be part of helping us out with this project.
While Lana and I felt bad that she had to live in such an inhospitable situation, Jean’s grace helped ease our burden. She expressed over and over that she truly wanted to help us out. The only reason we could even possibly believe her was that she was consistently overly gracious. If she had just said, “It’s OK, don’t worry about it,” that would have been gracious. But we would have still felt miserable for what was happening. Yet because of her overflowing graciousness, we were finally able to believe that she was sincere in her thankfulness and solid in her belief that God had placed her right where He wanted her to be for that season of her life.
Through her words and actions, Jean taught us the value of being overly gracious. Just saying a kind word or two doesn’t always get the message across. Sometimes we need to be overly gracious, as God has been with us, in order for others to truly believe that we’re sincere.
Like the Apostle Paul, who used the word grace a dozen times in his letter to the Ephesians, and another seventy-five times in his other letters in the New Testament, it may seem like we would never be able to talk about grace enough, to demonstrate it enough, to live it enough, or to truly express it enough so that others would be able to believe it and receive it.
But if we keep trying, if we keep sharing, if we keep expressing God’s grace to others as if God Himself was expressing His grace through us, then perhaps others would begin to believe us. Just maybe they’d begin to realize how much we love them, and how much God loves them. Just maybe, by being “overly gracious,” we’d finally be able to be “gracious enough.”
Prayer: Father, thank You for being overly gracious with me. Thank You for expressing Your grace to me in a way that I could believe it and receive it. Now, Lord, help me to do the same in sharing Your grace with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.