As Christians, we know that the best example we have for living is Christ. We love because he first loved us. We forgive because he has forgiven us. We give grace because we have been given grace. But, the question is, when is grace no longer grace? This is the question that I have had to revisit several times in the last few years.
Grace is no longer grace when we have gotten to the point of disrespecting ourselves. How do we know that we our disrespecting ourselves? It is usually when our needs, thoughts, well-being, and boundaries are ignored. Boundaries exist emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
One of the ways to know if we are disrespecting ourselves is to pay attention to our “gut reaction”. A lot of times our bodies know that something is wrong before our emotional, mental, and spiritual knows that something is wrong. When I first met a neighbor at my last residence, she seemed nice. Although she seemed nice, there was still something that didn’t allow me to feel 100% safe. During the course of talking to her, she almost fell. She grabbed on to me to recover her balance, and my whole body locked up. If you live with PTSD/trauma on a daily basis, then you are very familiar with the stiffness of the body as a reaction to trauma/stress. Because of trauma victims having a negative charge, we are even more sensitive to detecting something wrong. We are magnets to certain types of energy. Had I acted on this warning, I could have avoided a lot of heartache. When you have a gut reaction about something, it is your body’s warning that your boundaries are being crossed, or that something said isn’t right.
We all have bad days. We are all broken, and because of our brokenness we are going to sin on a daily basis. However, it is important to pay attention to how often we are giving excuses for behavior.
We are not to keep score, however, it is important to know that there is give and take in any relationship. If we are on the giving 90% of the time side, this is a sign that grace is no longer grace. This will manifest itself through feeling drained emotionally during or at the commencement of the relationship. This isn’t a normal reaction in a give and take dynamic.
You are working to prove your value and worth all the time. Jesus’ death cut out all the legalism of work. If we are striving for approval or value from others, or we are given the hidden meaning to keep hustling for someone, grace is no longer grace. I love this verse in Romans that makes this so clear: And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. Romans 11:6
Grace is no longer grace when we allow ourselves to to be controlled. Control can be subtle or obvious. When you find yourself in a toxic dance, your gut feeling is not right, and you are going around in circles, this is a sign you are being controlled. It can also be a matter of having the things that you say or do be used against you. For example: Person A says : Do this. Person B: Does this. Person A says: Why did you do this? And then this repeats over and over again. The only way to come out of the dance is to eliminate your action as person B.
One of the best ways to determine whether grace is no longer grace is to look for patterns. These patterns will give a clue into whether or not there was a misunderstanding on our part, or if there is a pattern of sin on the other person’s part. If it is hard to detect, then one of the best things that we can do is to pray. Prayer for wisdom and discernment will allow us to receive what God wants us to know. As much as we hate conflict, it is something that we can’t avoid. The podcast on handling conflict can be found here. We are told in scripture how to handle the conflict of sin:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. Matthew 18:15-17
What I have come to figure out myself is that if the scripture verses above were put into effect in all of my situations, then the draining/toxic effect could have been avoided or lessened. We cannot save or fix others. It is Satan’s job to make us believe that we can, to the point of disrespecting ourselves, where grace is no longer grace.
God bless you all!