The Reciprocity of Grace
“Men of Israel, why do you marvel?”
That is the question Peter asked the crowd as they ran to him in awe of the miracle he had just performed. A man lame from birth was miraculously healed by the power and Name of Jesus Christ and the people didnt know how to reconcile it.
Peter said, ” The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses….And yet brethren I know you acted in ignorance just like your rulers did…Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
In essence he says, “You marvel at His power yet: YOU delivered him up, YOU disowned Him, YOU asked for a murderer in His place and YOU put Him death.”
That was the case against them. That is what they were guilty of. There was no discussion or chance to defend themselves. This was a list of their crimes in the sight of God Almighty and the verdict read GUILTY.
Yet Peter then says to them, “I know you acted in ignorance”, so here are your options…
Repent, Return to God, Receive forgiveness of sin, and be Refreshed in His Presence.
You see, right here Peter laid out the case that was against them, and then he laid out the grace that was before them.
It’s chapters like this that make me so grateful for grace. I am so grateful that I don’t serve a God who simply left me with a case against me. I know that I have sinned and fallen short of the grace of God. I know that the wages of my sin are death. I know that it was my sin that held him on that cross. I know the case that was against me.
And yet, today I am completely and totally free from all condemnation because after the case was made, the grace was laid.
He gave me grace. Me!
He knew my weakness. He knew my fallen sin nature and He says to me, just like Peter said to the men of Israel: Repent, Return, Receive forgiveness of your sins, and be Refreshed in my presence. That’s it. That’s grace.
Repent. Return. Receive. And be Refreshed.
What an offer! What a humbling, gracious, and undeserving offer we have been given! You see, God doesn’t just leave us with a list of accusations against us, but He leaves us with a list of resolutions for us. He leaves us with an option to change our story. To change our narratives. He gives us the choice to be free from the pain and bondage of our sinful nature. He leaves us with grace instead of just a case.
And then I begin to think of how many times I simply leave those around me with a list of accusations. My children, my husband, those who have “done me wrong”. I am so quick to have a running tab (even if just in my head) of anything and everything everyone else has done to deserve my wrath. My list of accusations run rampant with no resolutions in sight. The case against them is strong and unrelenting. You know you have some cases like that as well. We all do.
It’s so easy to forget the grace when it comes to others.
But what if Peter stopped at the beginning of this verse? What if there were no option to Repent, Return, Receive and Be Refreshed? Where would that leave you and I? Literally, where would it leave us? In bondage and in condemnation. You see Grace is what sets us free. It sets us free to repent, free to return, free to receive and free to be refreshed. Grace takes the case that was against us, and even after a full review of all accusations, completely and totally dismisses it without prejudice. Grace sets us free!
And yet we choose to exercise our freedom by keeping other people in bondage. We walk in our freely received grace, all the while holding in our hands, air tight cases against everyone else. What would it mean for us to set people free? Set them free to experience the same freedom we walk in every single day. Set them free from the choices they made in their ignorance. What would it look like to leave those around us with a list of resolutions and not just a list of accusations?
These are the questions we should ask ourselves today. The reminders we should put in place. We can never forget the case that was against us. Because if we forget the case then we are in danger of underestimating the grace. And if we underestimate the grace that we have received, then we may underestimate the power of the grace that we can give. Grace sets people FREE!
Questions to Journal through:
Who in your life are you holding accountable to a list of accusations? Why?
What is it in you that wants to keep that person bound in unforgiveness? Be specific.
Meditate specifically about your sin and unworthiness before the cross of Christ and the unmerited grace you have received. Now, how can you move toward showing that person grace today? What can you specifically do?