Those who most need grace from us are those who see us at our best—and at our worst; the people who share houses, schools and cubicles with us. They sleep on the other side of the bed, or in the bedroom down the hall. They are the parents who seemed never to believe in us, or relatives who expect us to give endlessly. They work in the corner office, behind the counter, or any of a hundred places where expectations sometimes clash. They differ on food choices, paint colors, politics and faith. In short, they’re near enough to know if grace has left its mark on us, if gospel values of forgiveness and reconciliation really fill the spaces of our lives. They see the choices that we make—to hold our tongues; to apologize when needed; to not hold grudges; to release our claims on vengeance. And they measure our religion, not by creeds or preached theologies, but by the cold cloth on a feverish night, and the love that has no need to shame. Grace can’t be sought from everyone, but can be shared with anyone. “Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn 4:11). “Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor 13:11). This is the sum of practical religion—adding grace, subtracting faults. Live the gentleness of Jesus. And stay in grace. -Bill Knott
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