TUESDAY– Wonderful Grace—Sufficient for You
Big Point: From the human perspective, God’s grace is sufficient for only some. From God’s perspective, God’s grace is sufficient for all.
Ten years ago on May 11, Eric Smallridge left Pensacola Beach, Florida after a night of drinking. He thought he could drive home safely without incident. At twenty-four-years-old, Smallridge thought he was invincible. He was wrong. He lost control of his car, sending another vehicle carrying 20-year-olds Meagan Napier and Lisa Dickson careening into a tree. The girls were killed on impact. Smallridge stood trial and was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison.
It would seem that Meagan Napier’s mother, Renee, would have every reason in the world to angrily appeal the Judge’s sentence of twenty-two years. Why not his whole life? After all, Smallridge’s decision cost Renee’s daughter her life. However, Renee’s attitude has been astounding. She has not only forgiven Smallridge, but in 2006, both girls’ families requested that his sentence be reduced. He will be released in November of this year.
What could lead a parent who has lost her child to forgive such a debt? “I could be angry, hateful and bitter,” stated Renee Napier. “But I didn’t want to live my life that way. There was no way I could move on and live a happy life without forgiving Eric. I’ve grown to love him and his family. They have been so supportive. This isn’t about me anymore. This is about Meagan and Lisa.”
Keeping her promise to make it about Meagan and Lisa, Mrs. Napier has been making presentations around the state of Florida, speaking to teenagers about the dangers of drunk driving. Eric Smallridge has been granted special permission to leave his prison to co-present these talks. They make a powerful appeal to students who will hopefully receive the message that drinking and driving is dangerous.
But it’s the message of forgiveness that transcends in this story. “We live in a world with a lot of pain and heartache, I want to promote love and forgiveness and help break that cycle of hatred,” said Napier. And once you forgive, grace is freely extended.
Read and Think….Find Answers in the Bible
According to this passage, what was our state before Christ gave us life? According to verse seven, why has Christ shown this mercy and given us this grace?
Ephesians 2:4-7 (New Living Translation)
4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
“The grace of God always precedes the law of God’s grace”
– Andy Stanley
LIVE ..… What will you do now?
Think about your reaction to the story of Eric Smallridge. What do you think of Renee Napier’s decision and ability to forgive Eric? Do you find it unbelievable? Do you find it difficult to believe that God could forgive even beyond this magnitude?
Describe the times when you have craved grace when your guilt was exposed?
It’s likely that Eric Smallridge craved grace when his guilt was exposed. Yet, Renee Napier did not “crucify” him. Instead she created a relationship with Eric. Can you name individuals in the Bible who likely should have gotten the “legal smack down” for something wrong that they did but instead their relationship with God increased? Has anyone ever extended grace to you like Renee Napier extended to Eric? Describe what that felt like.
It is in the nature of God to grant grace. Why does it seem that we as humans don’t have the same capacity to accept grace?
He is jealous for me.
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree.
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden.
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory.
And I realize just how beautiful You are.
And how great Your affections are for me.
And O how He loves us
Oh, O how He loves us
How He loves us all.
“He Loves Us,” David Crowder
Spend some time thinking about the nature of God. Do you believe and trust that God is who He says he is? What evidence do you have of that in your life?
Pray … God, what do you want to know and do?
Begin by meditating on the grace of God. Ask God to remind you what it is like to feel His infinite grace. Ask God to help you accept His true nature. Ask God to reveal any areas in your life where you may need to extend grace to another.