In the last year or so, I’ve become rather intrigued by the Enneagram. At its most basic, it’s a personality test but, for me and so many others, it’s been a lot more. It’s helped give voice to things about me and how I’m wired that I didn’t have words for until I began diving into this concept. I’m a Three, which is also called the “Achiever”. These are the people who love work and accomplishment and meritocracy. We’re able to navigate through the murky waters of political structures, read the people around us, and have this tendency to do rather than be. At our best, we are collaborative and cooperative and call out the best in others. At our worst, we tend to be divisive and harsh workaholics who can’t separate our identity from our actions.
Lately, I’ve had to be far more gracious than I would like to be. Honestly. The last couple of months have been very stressful in my world and, at times, I have clearly not been at my best. And, in the midst of my frantic working and striving, I’ve had to intentionally extend grace to others who are struggling just as much as me. Change and growth are the murky waters I’ve been swimming in and, most of the time, it’s felt like I’ve been swimming against the current. And despite my exhaustion and frustration, grace has been the thing I’ve had to dish out, even though I’ve felt like my grace bucket has sprung a leak.
Grace is a hard concept for me to understand. I want to earn everything that I get, and I don’t like when things are given to me. Grace is something that’s completely unmerited and is freely given. But I really enjoy giving people what they deserve.
Yet, God doesn’t give me or you what we deserve. Instead, because of Jesus, we are freely given grace. We aren’t just given a drop of grace (that alone would be an immense kindness), but buckets and buckets of grace. He invites us to cannonball into an ocean full of grace that extends for miles and miles. His grace for us has no end—and that’s incredibly good news.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9 (NIV)
We haven’t and can’t earn the love of the Lord. Instead, he unleashes copious amounts of unmerited favor and unearned kindness upon us. It’s not based on our performance, but our position as children. The Lord has called us, given us his name, and restored our identities because he loves us. It’s that simple and that difficult to understand and embrace.
And, because so much grace has been extended to us, we can choose to extend it to others. This unmerited, undeserved favor of God is something that can permeate everything we say and do because it’s been so freely extended to us. We can choose to live and move and operate in grace even though it can be awkward at times.
Though I struggle with the concept of grace, the more I wade into a relationship with the Lord, the more grateful I become for it. He is the one who fills up and maintains our grace buckets so that we can dish out grace to others even when they don’t deserve it. I wonder how our worlds might change if we were more willing to dish grace out daily. Let’s give it a try and see what happens!
Do you struggle with the concept of grace? Why do you think that is?
Does your grace bucket have a leak? I encourage you to ask God for a restored bucket today.