Bible Verse: God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. Ephesians 2:5

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1-5

Bad circumstances can make it seem that others have the ability to ruin our lives.

Jason’s business was going well. He and his partner, Stan, had a solid agreement and a balanced team. Jason was good at the “hands on” work while Stan was good with numbers and the books. They were making money, gaining new clients and improving their reputation. Jason and his wife had finally bought the home of their dreams and were making plans to enjoy a long-awaited family vacation. It looked as if things were going to be good for decades to come.

Their world was rocked the day they discovered Stan had been taking large amounts of money out of the business for years. He had neglected to pay taxes, underpaid vendors and doctored the books to hide the trail. Lienholders were lining up to get their share of all they owned with the IRS at the front of the pack. Stan had taken advantage of their hard work and put them out of business. Jason had to give up their home, sell off assets and start over.

The only choice his circumstances left him was whether he would restart with a heavy heart of hatred toward Stan. He had been wronged and his entire life had been disrupted by the selfishness of a once-trusted friend. The thought that Stan had ruined his life was close enough to the surface to feel its breath and smell its scent.

The problem with this approach is it would make Jason a victim. If he gave in to the temptation to define Stan as “the individual who ruined my life,” he would succeed in turning Stan into a monster who possesses superior power. The end result is he would see himself as a victim who had been defeated.

Our Saviour, the greatest being in the universe, chose a different approach. He could easily have defined us by our sins, shortcomings and deficiencies. He could be the all-powerful master who makes us all victims. Instead, he sees us as incapacitated without His grace. We either need His grace for eternal life (because we were dead in our transgressions and sins) or we need His grace for everyday life (because we are now alive in Christ).

Forgiveness requires redefining people. When we see everyone as objects of God’s grace, they become the same size as us, which gives us the power to forgive them. They are broken and flawed individuals who have the same potential for good and bad that we possess. We need to be forgiven and empowered by our Savior and so do the people who hurt us.

Jason decided there was no value in giving Stan any more influence over his life. He knew he would never trust Stan again, but he didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of dominating his thinking or planning. He is slowly rebuilding his life. He has a new business that is doing ok. He lives in a rented house. He does his best to stay focused on his goals though some days he would rather just blame Stan. It takes guts and effort to remind himself that Stan doesn’t have the ability to ruin his life. Only Jason can do that, and he would rather protect his heart.

Jesus, give me your eyes to see people so that grace dominates my thinking and frees me to forgive.

— Bill Farrel, author of 7 Simple Skills for Every Man.

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