Grace Under Pressure
I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling the pressure from the barrage of opinions and information that are constantly being thrown at us from news agencies and social media platforms. Never in history have we had access to so much information, from local to around the world. All these voices sharing their viewpoints not just on Covid, but also regarding racial diversity, politics, religion, and environmental issues are producing divisions between families, friends, and communities. Sadly, these divisions are creating a hostile and unloving atmosphere, even within the church family.
I am not saying that we should not have personal viewpoints, but I am questioning how we are expressing our opinions with others. So, let me ask you, “Does being right about an issue justify splitting up your family or a friendship? Is saying you’re right and they’re wrong worth dividing your church and community?” Again, let me say that you have the right to your opinions, but then so does the other person. One of the greatest freedoms we have in America is the freedom to express our opinions; to engage in constructive dialogue with others who have different viewpoints while showing respect for one another. Yet, that is not what we see today. Instead, we see intolerance, hostility, and even violence toward others who are simply voicing a different viewpoint.
Now, more than ever, we need to show grace to one another, despite our different opinions. As a Christian, I not only believe in Jesus Christ, but I’m called to follow his example, and Jesus always showed grace toward others. So, what does grace under pressure look like? Let me suggest three steps to showing grace:
- Grace starts with personal reflection: Jesus tells us that before we try to correct another person, we must first judge our own heart’s thoughts and motives. Often I find that pride is the underlying motive of my heart. The need to be seen better, smarter, and more heard than others. (Matthew 7:3-5)
- Grace speaks words of peace: The Bible is full of advice on how we should use our words because words have the power to build up or tear down. Every day I ask God to help me with my words, that they would be words of peace and healing. (Proverbs 12:18)
- Grace responds with patience: Grace does not react, but patiently responds with grace toward others. The Bible says it is a noble thing to overlook an offense, to not react out of our own pain in order to hurt another. (Proverbs 19:11)
Like you, showing grace, especially under pressure, does not come naturally to me. It is something that I have to daily work at, especially when it comes to my words. A former pastor of mine taught me to ask three simple questions to filter all that I say. First, I ask myself, “Is this true?” If it is true, then I ask myself, “Is it kind?” How many of us have been hurt by a person who spoke something true but unkindly? Lastly, I ask myself, “Is it necessary?” Wow, that will stop most things right there. It might be true, and it might even be kind, but is it really necessary? Is it necessary to have the last word, to have the loudest voice, to speak at the cost of peace? These three filters have saved me from countless arguments and embarrassing situations. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NIV). Remember, “We don’t give people what they deserve, we give them what they need,” and today we all need a little grace!