There but for the grace of God...

There is an old saying that we utter at times when we see folks struggling.

"There but for the grace of God, go I"

This phrase is credited to John Bradford, a preacher and martyr who lived 1510-1555. The story is that Bradford would see someone being led to the scaffold for hanging and say, "There but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford." In 1555, John Bradford was burned at the stake and spoke to a fellow victim "we shall have a merry supper with the Lord this night." 

This is all legend, and the earliest the saying appears in print is 1822, found in A Treatise on Prayer, by Edward Bickersteth as a telling of the Bradford story. 

I have thought of this phrase and spoken it a few hundred times in my life. My worry is that I use the phrase much like we in the southern US say, "bless their heart." The phrase sounds nice and kind, but really carries the subtext of "they are just not intelligent enough to pour water out a bucket, with the directions on the bottom."

My challenge is to not just lament the plight, or lot in life of a fellow traveler; instead, to show grace to whoever i think or say that of. 

As a follower of Christ, I need to put boots to my words, flesh to my thoughts, and actions to my intentions. To simply see someone in need of grace and notice is like looking in the mirror and noticing that i am overweight. If no action follow, I stay fat. If i see that someone needs grace and do nothing...then he or she still needs grace. 

I pray that I realize that God has determined to use me as an extension of His grace and love to others. I pray that the church, the bride of Christ, realizes that we are here to advance the circle of grace, love and invitation to each person that we meet. 

I am thankful for the people who saw me in need of grace, and stepped in and offered. 



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