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How We Can Give and Receive Grace

How We Can Give and Receive Grace

In the hymns we learn what grace is and how to access it, but we also learn how to share it with others. Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, “Jesus is said to have gone about doing good (see Acts 10:38), which included healing the sick and infirm, supplying food to hungry multitudes, and teaching a more excellent way. . . . So may we, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, go about doing good in the redemptive pattern of the Master."

As Christian disciples we forgive others as Christ forgives us. We love others as He loves us. We serve others as He serves us—not in an effort to deserve grace, but in an effort to offer it to others as freely as it is offered to us. Each calling we fulfill, each mission we serve, each dollar we donate, each temple session we attend is not a “work” done in place of faith but an inevitable outgrowth of that faith. We are not trying to earn grace but to return grace for grace. Of what value is Christ’s unearned gift if it goes unused by ourselves and unrecognized by others?

When people disagree with us, or make us feel stupid, or fail to live up to our expectations, the most human response is to resist and reject. Sometimes we do it with anger and often with silence. How do we respond to those who have chosen not to believe in the gospel? We all know someone who has made this decision. Think of your friend or loved one who now thinks differently about things you hold sacred. If you are the one distancing yourself from the Church, think of how your actions affect your loved ones. This is a time when grace is needed on both sides of those relationships. The enabling power of Christ can enable us to see others as people, not objects, special projects, or enemies. Grace given human to human is filled with respect and love. When we are angry or fearful or blaming, we disable relationships. When we see others as people we love and desire to help, we enable relationships.

Returning Grace

Amy shares this personal experience: 

"A few months ago my son told me he no longer bought into the ideas he had been taught when he was growing up. He is not comfortable with many things in the Church and has decided to walk a different road. Needless to say, it was pretty devastating to me. Because he knows how I feel about the Church, I’m sure he expected a negative response from me. Preemptively and defensively he said to me, “If you have to judge my decisions and tell me that I am a bad person, you are not welcome in my life. And you can tell that to the rest of the family too.” How would you reply?

Because of my personal experience with the Savior giving me grace and my indefinable love for my son, my answer came as a gift, swiftly and gently, “You will always be welcome in my life and my heart. There is nothing you can do that would keep me from loving you. You can tell me anything and I would hope that you would be open to me telling you anything.” He believed me because it was completely true. I wasn’t saying words while thinking something else. My son felt the truth of my statement and our relationship stayed intact. What if I had reacted defensively and without grace? What damage might have been done?

That inspired answer came easily to my mind because I have felt Christ whisper those same words to my heart at difficult times in my own life: “You will always be welcome in my life and my heart. There is nothing you can do that would keep me from loving you. You can tell me anything and I would hope that you would be open to me telling you anything.” As Christ honors our agency, I must honor my son’s agency. As Christ loves me intensely (which I don’t understand), I will continue to love my son intensely (which I do understand). I am trying to return grace for grace."

"I Stand All Amazed"

The hymn “I Stand All Amazed” was written by Charles H. Gabriel, who was born in 1856. He was raised on a farm in Iowa, but developed an interest in music early because his father taught singing in their home. When Charles was a young boy he overheard his pastor ask if anyone knew of a good hymn to go along with the topic of his upcoming sermon. The next day this boy presented him with a song he had written himself. That was the start of an entire lifetime of composing and publishing sacred music. His hymn “I Stand All Amazed” is greatly loved by Latterday Saints. In it we sing, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, /Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.” In our day we usually think of the word confused as meaning not understanding something. However, in Charles Gabriel’s day it also was used to express wonder and awe. Similarly, the word proffer is not one we hear often today, but it means much more than to give or offer. It means volunteering a gift with no strings attached. It means extending or holding out a gift—literally putting it someone’s hands. So when we sing that hymn we are singing, “I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, / Confused at [totally in awe of] the grace that so fully he proffers [he volunteers, extends, and holds out] to me.”

When the Brigham Young University Museum of Art presented an exhibit titled Sacred Gifts, we wanted our families to see the beautiful paintings of the Savior. Amy decided to take some of her grandchildren. In the museum the lights were subdued and mothers encouraged their children to whisper. One of the moms was kneeling next to six-year-old Max and four-year-old Zoe explaining a painting. Zoe left that painting and stopped alone in front of Carl Bloch’s Christ on the Cross. In this quietly subdued atmosphere, little Zoe broke into song (and not in a whisper): “I stand all amazed that for me he was crucified, / That for me, a sinner, He suffa’d, he bled and died. / . . . Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me!” Completely unaware of anyone or anything else, this little girl sang with her whole heart.

If anyone has ever wondered if Mormons believe in grace, that person should have been there to hear little Zoe sing as she stood before a picture of Christ on the cross. Yes—we believe in grace. We know it is any contact we have with the Lord in which He enables us to change. We begin to accept it by turning to the Lord, being believing, staying positive, and showing faith. We offer it to others as freely as it is offered—even proffered—to us.

The Lord Will Give Grace and Glory

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Learn more about grace with addition talks from the 2014 BYU Women's Conference.

"Grace is basically every contact we have with the Lord in which He enables us to change." Amy H. White and Brad Wilcox

Learn more about grace