In the midst of a world gone mad, today I learned another lesson in grace.
I thought I had learned all I needed to know about grace, but I was wrong. We say it often as Christians: “When we are weak, then He is strong…” but it’s too easy often to just say it, rather than understand it.
You’ve been there before, too, I’m sure. Where you find yourself doing what you know you need to do, but you don’t really want to.
Every step feels weighted down and difficult.
It was here that you come face-to-face with the crushing reality of the burden of grace.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:38-39 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
Has he seen the people who are doing the slapping?
They are often the most hateful, scornful, and undeserving. I don’t believe Jesus was talking to nations in this passage. There is obviously a place for authority, law, and order in a society. That’s how God structured things.
But here in the Sermon on the Mount, He was talking to people. His people. The ones He said would be children of our Father in heaven growing and maturing as His sons and daughters if they love the ones who slap, hate, and scorn. (Matthew 5)
Reflecting an image of our Father.
Carriers of grace.
Grace. Unmerited favor. Unearned mercy. Going above, beyond, to the extreme.
Dare I suggest, grace might even seem foolish? For what if they slap you, again and again?
Jesus often challenged His followers in the call of being grace-givers because for the most part, people weren’t. They lived in an environment of self-interest, self-ambition, and self-preservation.
He called them out to the extreme.
He exposed the ugliness in their own hearts and called them to a level of grace giving that they had never seen.
One He was willing to model and extend.
His was a grace where blood was poured out for those who were undeserving, a people filled with hate who had rejected Him and slapped and spit in His face.
So often we cry out for grace and live a life leaning into it for own benefit; but harder to do is carrying the burden of giving grace. It is a burden that squeezes out the “self” and pushes against the grain of what you want to do, urging you instead to lean into what you know you need to do.
What Jesus is asking you to do.
There in our weakest place when His words cut hard, we have a choice: give up to the power of the weakness and refuse; or give up to the power of His strength flowing down and strengthening us to do what we don’t want to do for someone who doesn’t seem to deserve it.
Oswald Chambers says this:
“The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount is not, ‘Do your duty.’ but is, in effect, ‘Do what is not your duty.’ It is not your duty to go the second mile, or turn the other cheek, but Jesus said that if we are his disciples, we will always do these things…A disciple realizes that it is his Lord’s honor that is at stake in his life, not his own honor.” (My Utmost for His Highest)
That second mile is always the hardest and where you will feel the weakest. But it is here that you discover and appreciate greater the extenuating burden of grace that He walked- that second mile to the cross.
A second mile for this undeserving and ungrateful girl.
What I learned as I took that first step of grace was that every step became easier as I felt His strength walking me in my own weakness; perfecting and carrying me towards that life willing to live for His honor, far from the undeserving place I started.
Our world is filled with hate and anger. I like to think that the Creator of the universe knows best what will be most effective in battling these things that today rage freely in our culture. He knows what will make us shine brightest.
We must not fear the darkness; we must not hate those who hate us; we must be willing as His children to live a life of second mile living.
It is His honor at stake, after all.