Dancing in the Light

I John 1:7 "If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanses us from all sin."

Location: North Platte, Nebraska, United States

I am a christian wife, mother and grandmother. I am a licensed Social worker and a licensed Christian counselor. I am most proud of the relationships I have with God, my family and friends all over the world. I have been blessed beyond my dreams.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Stingy Grace

If you look up the word, "stingy" (stinjee) in the dictionary, you will find the following definitions: "miserly, stressing a pathological pleasure in acquiring and hoarding", "mean, ungiving, penurious", "scanty, meager", and "a small minded, ignoble way that leads to miserable, cheerless living." There are several other definitions but you get the jist of the word.
Recently, Ned and I have been forced to deal with several situations wherein one or both parties are very stingy with their grace. I am amazed that we so readily forget just how much God has done for us. When we find ourselves withholding our gifts because someone has offended us, withdrawing our participation because we are not getting our way, or disengaging ourselves from our Christian family because we simply don't agree with everyone, I believe we are exhibiting all of the negative words that define the word "stingy".
In the past few weeks I have personally heard discussions about whether or not the church should be benevolent and offer help to those who are not a part of the body. I have heard conversations about whether or not we should give the same recognition to members who are very involved as we do those on the fringe. I have been privy to an argument about how much we should actually reach out to an unwed mother in our congregation, because our help to her might be misconstrued as approval of her situation. Where is grace? Have we forgotten that we were lost in sin and wallowing in unrighteousness and Someone (God) had compassion on us? Is our memory so short that we have forgotten how He loved us anyway and loved us enough to die for us? He was generous with His grace and yet we tend to hold on to ours, saving it for only those we deem "worthy". How sad is that? It seems that too often we behave as if we only have a limited supply of grace and must therefore hoard it or be very selective about who receives it. Don't we know that grace never runs out? That so long as we walk in the light, His grace and mercy continually makes us clean and whole? Have we never read Luke 6:38? "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." In the context, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about judging and condemning, giving and forgiving. He is telling them how to act like His disciples and He talks about generosity.
Maybe I am just incredibly naive but I believe the things, the money, the time, the possessions, we have do not belong to us--they belong to God and He, out of His generosity gives them to us. He expects us to share these gifts with others, to use them to further the message of redemption and saving love. I truly believe, and I believe scripture teaches that when we give graciously and generously, we receive in abundance and will not be in want. Grace will not run dry---but will constantly be renewed and refilled by the blessed Giver. Why then do we hoard our grace?Why do we base our giving on whether or not the person deserves it or what their response will be? If they misuse our gift, that is between them and God. We are accountable to Him only for our response to their need!
I want to be kind and gracious, full of compassion and mercy. I want to be a good steward of what God gives me, but I want to be a true giver. I realize that as long as we are stingy with our grace, we will live "a miserable and cheerless" life. Let's live this week, this month, this year, this life as people who are known for our generous grace! What do you say?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Neva!
We should give of our grace freely and generously. You are right that when we hold on to it, we are miserable.


11:39 PM  
Anonymous Jarrod said...

Amen! Amen! Amen! How could we share grace so sparingly when he shares it so lavishly? Great post!


9:15 AM  
Blogger AncientWanderer said...

Having grown up in the church AND still loving the body of Christ I have come to some conclusions about this sort of thing.
There's at least two possibilities IMHO:

[1] Stingy Christians have a perverted jealousy about "others" getting away with sin. Sin that they secretly "gave up" or "avoided" but wished they didn't have to.

[2] Stingy Christians think they have the righteous responsibility to punish sins that God obviously overlooked.

Just my opinion.

10:44 AM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

I am with Ancient Wanderer--maybe we need more sermons dealing with these issues.

Great post, Neva


12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to long ago we faced the same situation with a member of our church. Her daughter was an unwed mother. I do feel we should show lots of grace in these situations. For our actions may help bring this person back into the flock where she knows she belongs. We too had many people that did not want to support because of her SITUATION but several women went ahead and showed the grace we are to give. Those who do not support do not have to come. It will be between them and God. This family was so appreciative of the love shown to them during a very hard and trying time. The baby was beautiful and blessed by all the things that this family needed and could not afford. This baby did not choose to be born out of wedlock so why persecute the child. I would like to have grace given to me so we should always show grace.
So glad you are back and up and running! We miss you,

10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post Neva!

I hope I never forget that Christ's example is the pattern I have to follow in my treatment of not only those in my congregation but every person I meet. God's love is for me but not for me alone God created every soul and wants every soul to return to Him. If I stand in the way of another what does that say about my faith, do I doubt that He created all of us and loves us all equally His word tells me He did so that is what I must rely on for direction in my thoughts, deeds and in my giving and loving of my fellow man.

Being stingy with my love for others is not an option if I believe His Word!

God be with you
love ya and glad you are back blogging.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Traci said...

Wonderful post!! I totally agree and what's so sad is that when you do show grace, how many look at you like you're the world's doormat and you should know better? Grace does amazing, miraculous things and what people need to realize that understanding a situation does not mean you accept it.

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanx for the encouragement. I get stingy cause the people around me are. It is no excuse but it is the truth. It is so sad "the church" drags us down. It is made of humans and we will never be perfect but I see so few encouragements to be gracious.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been there and been ashamed of my own stinginess as well as that of my brothers and sisters. The abundant grace we receive should be the reason for the abundant grace we give.

Very good post, Neva

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Corinne said...

I totally agree with ancientwanderer's comment. I think we do feel "jealous" that others seem to be having so much fun living irresponsibly all the while we feel enslaved by our morals and values. That seems so real and yet so wrong. I also agree with the second point that we are all too often guilty of taking over the Lord's place in dealing out retribution for sin. Shame on us for being so stingy with our grace and so delusional or confused or just plain sinful in our thought procesees. I love the post and I love the comments.


3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How dare we not be merciful and grace giving when He has been so to us? It is shameful that we are so stingy with such a glorious gift. Perhaps that is what makes us so human.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Lori said...

Yes Neva, I took have been that stingy person, only thinking of myself.

great post, Thank you.


3:14 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Great post, Neva.
I have seen some arguments like the ones you've described, and been a part of some of the conversations.
Maybe what we need to remember is that when we look into the face of an unrepentant sinner, we are looking into a mirror of the time before God's grace freed us. We were there! What if we had been turned away? You are so right. God's grace is so great. Our memories are so short. It's a good thing that we don't go around with stones in our pockets. We might start throwing them before Christ stops us.
(I, like many others, have always wondered what Christ was writing in the sand, as those who stood around Him were ready to stone the adulterous to death. I wonder if it wasn't the sins of those standing around Him prepared to condemn another. He didn't condmn her, yet, He did tell her to stop sinning. In loving others and accepting them, we must always be sure that we don't accept the sin.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful and powerful--"the river of grace will never run dry but will be constantly refilled and renewed by the Blessed Giver."


2:26 PM  
Blogger Kathy said...

Just getting caught up reading your blog, Neva and what a powerful blog this one is.
The difficulty we find ourselves in is when we extend grace to those, such as a pregnant single mom, we also have to extend that same grace to those that oppose any help to her. What a quandary!
Yes, as has been said, we need to be sure we qualify our extended grace and help with the "go, sin no more" loving teaching and attention. We need to be sensitive to the timing of such teaching - or again we may find ourselves being stingy with our grace.
Sharing grace with others brings peace to our hearts that are so bombarded by the things around us. It truly is a balm for the troubled soul.
I pray we as individuals will be so lavish with our grace that our churches can't help but become more generous sharing grace.

Bless you and thank you for this subject, Neva! You always seem to hit right on the head of the nail we need to get our attention.

Praying for safe travel and God-glorifying talk this weekend!!

In His love, grace and mercy


10:14 AM  
Blogger Candle (C & L) said...

This post hits were the rubber meets the road -- I want to be grace-filled in extending compassion to everyone --

some of the examples you give I can say with you -- what's wrong with them - don't theyunderstand grace -- but in otherareas I fear I see myself - holdingback from the homeless person looking for a handout -- because ... (we all have justifications for those areas we are limited in extending (reflecting) God's grace) ..

Thank you dear siter for this challenging and pointed reminder that God loved us while we are sinners and that any goodness we have is only a reflection of the goodness of Christ -- so how can we withhold compassion and kindness to any one that God loves -- and that includes everyone doesn't it?

God Bless

1:14 PM  
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