Pastor Ross Lieuallen
Forbearing one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these, put on, love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Above all these, put on love.… (Col. 3: 13-14)
Recently in reffing, I encountered a coach who, in my opinion, was an “EGR” at that time. A few weeks later he was not so much an “EGR.” Perhaps I had grown in my forbearance; perhaps there was nothing in the latter game to incite a need to see the person as an EGR.
What, pray tell, is EGR? It is an acronym for Extra Grace Required. Since this month we want to emphasize “love” as the above verses remind us to put on love (grace) above all we do or say, one could use the word love instead of grace in the acronym. Either way, the idea is, there are people who need our extra love, grace, and attention at this moment or season in their life. But just when we think we are the perfect spiritual specimen, please be reminded that EGR is a two-sided coin! As we give extra grace, there are those in our web of relationships who are giving us extra grace, love, and attention…..though we may never realize it!
How would know if you are an EGR person to someone else? Great question. The answer? Just assume you are! Sorry, but that’s the truth! As lovable as we might think we are to everyone, we simply are not! Someone out there is forgiving you, giving you grace, lovingly praying for you, and sincerely trying to love you with the love of the Lord.
We know we oughtn’t spend our waking moments trying to determine or maybe judge those who have the audacity to see “us” as an EGR! But let’s at least remember we are that EGR person to someone else. And thank God that we are causing them to pray, love, and serve better!
What are we supposed to do? Feel guilty for being an EGR? No! But let’s try to encourage ourselves with some simple attitudes.
- Be realistic and humble. Admitting we just ‘might be’ an EGR to someone or many is humbling. But it’s an honest expression of humility toward God and others to recognize and admit that we need more grace.
- As a recovering EGR, give EGR to others. There are people sincerely trying to love “you.” Yes, how true. At times we aren’t that lovable. And even when people are trying their best to communicate, to be patient, or express simple kindness, sometimes that doesn’t resonate with you! Maybe they are trying, but sincerely don’t know how to connect with you! Thus is church life, and learning to love another!
- Ask God to refine you. He can make us more approachable, be better listeners, or better at smiling – all acts that refine us and can make another person feel that we enjoy their presence!
Finally, there is the famous story told by Dr. Stephen Alford of a Baptist pastor during the days of the American Revolution. The pastor’s name was Peter Miller, who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. In Ephrata also lived Michael Wittman, an evildoer of sorts who did all he could to oppose and humiliate the pastor. One day Michael Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die. Pastor Peter Miller traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor. “No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.” “My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.” “What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy?” That puts the matter in a different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did. Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata—no longer an enemy but a friend.
That, my friend, is extra grace. I wonder if Wittman ever realized he was indeed the difficult one to love, but someone went the extra mile with extra grace. Who is that person to whom we need to extend extra grace? And equally important, do we realize we could be the EGR person for someone else? That indeed is humbling!