The prophet Jonah is a perfect example of someone who struggled with the concept of grace. Like many of us today, He wanted to see people punished for the wrong things they had done. He waited to see God’s wrathful vengeance carried out against the people of Nineveh. However, he was disappointed.
God did not destroy Nineveh. In His grace, He gave the Ninevites another chance after they realized their sinful actions and sought His forgiveness (Jonah 3:10).
Jonah angrily complained against the Lord, saying, “I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity” (Jonah 4:2).
The man who had received the grace of God in the belly of the fish complained about others receiving the same gift of grace.
Whether we want to admit it, we can often relate to Jonah. We happily receive salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection, but we choose to hold bitterness against others. Christians can easily forget the importance of grace in their life and the lives of others.
In this article, we will examine God’s grace in saving us and how this should affect how we view ourselves and others.
Jesus’ Act of Salvation
The preeminent example of grace is Jesus’ act of salvation. Humans deserve death and everlasting punishment because of our inherited sin from Adam and the sin we freely engage in (Romans 3:10-12, 23; Romans 5:12).
Scripture teaches that “the wages of sin is death,” which involves physical, spiritual, and eternal death (Romans 6:23). No human deserves to spend eternity with God or receive forgiveness.
Yet, despite our sinful rebellion, God the Father sent the Son to save us from our sins (John 3:16). As Romans 5:8 tells us, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (NLT).
Jesus died in our place, taking the punishment for our sins (1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). The perfect Lamb of God laid down His life for us (John 1:29).
When we trust in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and His resurrection, we receive His grace. This grace we receive is unmerited, meaning we do not deserve it or earn it (Ephesians 2:8-9).
As the Good News Translation of 2 Timothy 1:10 reads, “Now Christ Jesus has come to offer us God’s gift of undeserved grace. Christ our Savior defeated death and brought us the good news. It shines like a light and offers life that never ends” (emphasis mine).
Nothing in us compelled the Lord to save us. Rather, He is inherently a compassionate God, full of grace and mercy (Psalm 103:8).
His act of salvation shows “the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). All glory and praise belong to the Lord since we did not and cannot do anything to deserve salvation.
Living in His Grace
Since Jesus has graciously poured His love for us in saving us from our sins, then we should live in that place of grace and forgiveness. It is easy for people to get caught up in the guilt of past sins and failures.
Dwelling on past sins can stunt our spiritual growth and our relationship with Jesus. We need a regular reminder that we are forgiven even when we slip and give into temptation.
The Apostle Paul provides us with an example of how to live in the grace and forgiveness Jesus has given us.
Paul saw himself as the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). He had persecuted Christians “to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison” (Acts 22:4).
Yet, he had encountered the risen Christ and trusted in Jesus to save him. (Acts 22:8-16). While Paul could have fixated on his past sins, he chose to rest in the grace God had given him.
Like Paul, we can rest in the new life Jesus has given us. Instead of taking pride in our efforts to be righteous in our strength, we can praise the Lord for the strength found in His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9).
We do not have to be defeated by past sin because we are a new creation in Christ, set free from slavery to sin (John 8:36; 2 Corinthians 5:17).
If we fall into sin, we can intentionally listen to the Holy Spirit’s convicting work and seek forgiveness from the Lord. He is faithful and just to forgive (1 John 1:9).
Thus, Jesus does not want us to remain in the dark place of guilt over past sins. He died to give us a new life of freedom.
While past deeds may try to haunt us, they do not define us. No longer are we the people we were before salvation. We have new lives with identities as beloved children of God (John 1:12).
The Need to Show Grace to Others
Although we can struggle to live in the grace God has given us, it is even more difficult to show grace to others, especially when someone hurts us. Too often, we fail to show the same grace and forgiveness to others that we have received from Christ.
Even though we do not deserve forgiveness, Jesus died for us to give us salvation. If He can show us grace while we were still sinners, then we should also show that same grace to others.
Scripture tells us to “make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (Colossians 3:13, NLT).
Those who have experienced grace should be the ones eager to extend that same grace to other people.
Remembering that we also have sinned and hurt others, but were saved by Jesus, can help us view others differently.
Thomas à Kempis, a 15th-century writer of the beloved devotional classic The Imitation of Christ, describes it this way: “endeavor to be patient in bearing with the defects and infirmities of others, of what sort soever they be; for that thyself also hast many failings which must be borne with by others” (Moody).
Acting graciously toward others begins from a humble understanding of one’s own sinfulness. We know we fall into sin and hurt others, so why do we expect others to be perfect?
Although the world encourages us to hold grudges, seek revenge, and withhold forgiveness from those who hurt us or cause us trouble, the Bible teaches otherwise.
More than anyone else, followers of Christ should be the ones extending grace to those around them. If the Lord, who is holy and righteous, can forgive sinners like us, then we can extend the same love and forgiveness to others, even those who have caused us pain.
Why Does This Matter?
The Lord has given us the wonderful gift of salvation that we have not earned or deserved. His grace changes our future and gives us new lives of freedom.
Regularly meditating on Jesus’ amazing grace poured out to us on the cross is vital when considering how we view His character, our new life, and the people around us.
For further reading:
What Is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy?
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Sophia Bricker is a freelance writer who enjoys researching and writing articles on biblical and theological topics. In addition to contributing articles about biblical questions as a contract writer, she has also written for Unlocked devotional. She holds a BA in Ministry, a MA in Ministry, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing to develop her writing craft. As someone who is passionate about the Bible and faith in Jesus, her mission is to help others learn about Christ and glorify Him in her writing. When she isn’t busy studying or writing, Sophia enjoys spending time with family, reading, drawing, and gardening.