I don’t know if you are like me but I always role-play situations or conversations in my head and come up with the worst scenarios. It could be a simple glance from a friend and I might immediately think they are upset or disappointed with me. Sometimes it’s just a side comment by a loved one and I’m dreaming up something negative in my mind.
The other day my son played the basketball game of his life. Granted an 11-year-old basketball career is not that long but he scored 17 points in the game, was 4 for 6 behind the three-point line, and had 11 assists and 7 rebounds. He was, as they say in basketball, “en fuego!” And, by the way, they won the game by 30 points.
The next game the oddest thing happened: the coach sat him on the bench for the majority of the game. We could not believe it. We were perplexed with his decision and immediately began to wonder what Evan did wrong to make the coach reduce his playing time. We not only thought this but Evan himself asked the same thing. Was he a ball-hog in the previous game? Was he too cocky in his playing? Had he said something that the coach didn’t like? We never found out the reason why Evan sat for most of the game but it did get me wondering why we often let our minds drift to the worst-case scenario and think the worst about others.
Since the game I have been paying more attention to the way that I perceive life. I find myself jumping to conclusions that are not based on reality. It even happens to me when I’m preaching and catch an awkward glance of someone in the congregation. My first thought is that they must not like my sermon.
These catastrophic ways of thinking might seem extreme and maybe even silly but I know one thing…we all have these thoughts. Whether our minds are running away from us daily or just every now and again, I would like to propose a different approach.
What if we rested in the grace that has been given to us? I know this is easier to say than it is do. However, what if we didn’t respond in the way of our insecurity or our false-self? What if we responded out of humility and love instead?
Often our emotions are a reaction to what we just experienced and if we don’t know the result of a situation or a conversation, we can easily think the worst. However, to respond to others with grace we must offer grace even before we come across or face a situation.
The Bible tells us we are called to offer grace to others, though not because of who they are or what they’ve done. If grace were based on merit or self-worth it wouldn’t be grace but karma. We are called to extend grace because of the insurmountable debt of our own sin forgiven by the death of Jesus. We grow strong in grace to others when we understand God’s unconditional forgiveness for us. This is the power of the cross in our lives. By living out the beautiful message of grace to others, we begin to experience a greater depth of joy in our Heavenly Father.
So, as we start a new school year, fellowship with friends, connect with co-workers, spend time with family, and get to know strangers I pray this for us all:
May we learn to become unrestricted with the grace given to us, demonstrating an undiscriminating, unselective approach of God’s love to others. May we not adhere to the internal voice within that lies a false narrative. May we commit scandals of grace that the lost cannot comprehend and broken cannot explain. May the love of our Lord shine through us as we run to meet the weak and sinful in their point of need while offering them compassion. May we gain everything as we seek to love others with God’s grace and mercy. May we love beyond what the world understands and offer grace and forgiveness beyond what anyone could expect. And may we silence our misguided hearts and trust in God’s heart!