I was talking to my friend Sarah* about friendship the other day. She was telling me how she had been struggling because her best friend had hurt her feelings, and she was still working through it and praying for God to help her handle it well. Sarah is known for going the extra mile for her friends and family; somehow she always makes herself available if there is a need. With this one particular friend, she has sacrificed over and above many times, very willingly. But then when Sarah needed a favor, her friend refused to help because it wasn’t convenient at the time. Ouch.
I felt hurt and angry on her behalf. I asked her if she was going to be more careful in the future about how much she agreed to help this friend. And her answer both surprised and challenged me.
She said that she was learning more about God’s grace and how he forgives us freely and keeps offering us his best. Although she was still working through her emotions, she felt she should do the same for her friend. She said, “I don’t ever want to do something for someone or treat them well just because they’ve done something for me. ‘Grace’ means getting what you don’t deserve. I always want to do the right thing, whether it is returned (or even appreciated) or not.”
Wow. I was challenged to hear her say that. Of course that’s the right answer. But when you’ve been wronged, it is a lot harder not to feel the personal consequences of living like you believe it.
What if Jesus really meant what he said about the Golden Rule: “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you” (Matthew 7:12). He didn’t put a disclaimer after it that said, “but only if they appreciate it,” or “but only if they treat you well too.”
Sarah lives her life and bases all of her decisions on Colossians 3:17, “Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus.”
I want to live like that – to show grace as I have been shown grace by Jesus’ example, and to live as his representative. But it’s not as easy as it looks, and I am struggling to learn this lesson well. I am asking for God’s help – and grace – to see me through.
*Name has been changed.