Extra Grace Required

“Do not judge so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

Extra Grace Required. Maybe you’re struggling with a family member who criticizes you unfairly or expects too much of you… or a friend who seems to continually let you down… or these days, it may be someone who is on the other side of the political spectrum. I suspect for each one of us, there is at least one relationship in our lives that demands extra patience. Years ago, a trusted mentor named these relationships “EGR’s” –Extra Grace Required Relationships. EGR’s are those relationships that try our patience, tempt us to react impulsively, and often trigger our hot buttons. But I also believe that God uses annoying people to enlarge our hearts.

EGR’s seem to be everywhere. Unfortunately, they have a way of getting under our skin and they can suck the joy right out of our lives. What can you do about these people besides occasionally wishing they were out of your life? As people of faith, how can we deal with these difficult people for whom extra grace is required?

Jesus pointed out that when we judge, we will be judged in return. When we are gracious, we often receive grace. When we realize that others need the same benefit of the doubt that we would like to receive, we are far less likely to judge. This is Jesus’ reminder that there is not a single one among us who does not need an extra measure of grace.

Ernest Kurtz once described this concept beautifully: “Tolerance is not a grudging-putting-up-with but a loving identification-with. When we accept ourselves in all our weaknesses, flaws, and failings, we can begin to fulfill an even more challenging responsibility: accepting the weaknesses, limitations, and mixed-up-ness of those we love. Then, and only then, do we become able to accept the weaknesses, defects, and shortcomings of those we find it difficult to love.” Growth in this area begins with the insight – we are all imperfect! When I begin with the knowledge that I can be an EGR, I can cultivate an active appreciation of the richness and variety of the EGR’s in my life. And I can smile at it all.

Prayer Focus:
All of our EGR relationships

Gracious One, your very nature is to be with us throughout all of life. Today, we bring before you our relationships – the ones that bring life and the ones that steal our joy. Empower us to seek a whole relationship with you and with those whose ways are challenging for us. Forgive us, heal our judging spirits, and enable us to begin this day with fresh possibility. In the ways of Jesus. Amen.