Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Through the Christ child, along with salvation, God sent us two precious gifts. He wants us to open them and treasure them and use them often. They are the gifts of grace and mercy.
Grace has often been defined as God giving us what we don't deserve, and mercy, when God doesn't give us what we do deserve. Grace and mercy are God's way of telling us he loves us whether we deserve it or not.
One of the things I love most about the Christmas season is we all seem to be more like God in the way we treat one another. Mainly, we skip the whole step of figuring out how someone deserves to be treated when we're deciding how to treat them.
I used to be one of those guys that encountered a beggar on the street and noticed he or she was wearing a decent pair of shoes or had a $100 walkman hooked to the side of their pants, so I decided they really didn't need or deserve the handout they were asking for. Then one day I read an article about the number of times God has handed me something in my life that I didn't need or deserve, the number of times he had shown me grace, and it got me to thinking about things.
Shortly after reading that article, I came upon a woman walking the streets in downtown Richmond. She stepped into my path and began telling me a story about how she had to be downtown for a court date and her car broke down and she now had no way back home. My old instincts began to take over. I was three reasons down the list of reasons why her story was completely fabricated and I was being set up to look like a fool before I thought about that article. She had just gone to court, for crying out loud - a criminal was asking me for money!
But I remembered that article. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a bill. When I went to hand it to her I noticed it was a 20 dollar bill. She noticed that I noticed, and had a look on her face that seemed to wonder if I thought she deserved it or not. I gave it to her.
There was something liberating about that. Even after the next day when I was walking that same street and saw that very same woman asking someone else for money, I felt a sense of relief. You see, you don't feel like you've been taken when you give to others based on a sense of how God gives to you. It takes a lot of stress and pressure out of life when you realize you haven't been called to treat people how they deserve to be treated, but instead with the same type of grace and mercy God shows us.
There are so many days God blesses me with things I don't deserve, and I turn around the next day and give Him plenty of reason to believe that was a bad idea. That I got one over on Him again. But even then - he shows me nothing but mercy.