I once heard a speaker call a fellow Christian an “EGR” i.e. “Extra Grace Required.” In my immaturity, I began to follow suit in using the acronym when confronted with my own “EGRs.” How unloving. How hurtful.
Surely, in the Christian life we will face those who frustrate us whether it be by action on their part or because our hearts are just plain wicked. We aren’t going to naturally love everyone that makes up the Church. But in Romans 12:10 that’s exactly what we’re called to do.
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; 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.” Colossians 3:12-14
Commands to love each other are not hard to find in scripture but this passage stuck out to me like an accent wall. It seemed to bundle up all of the others I found into one package. Did you notice there’s no exclusions here? It doesn’t say it only applies to the Believers you naturally gravitate toward or the girl that seems to have it all together. James 2 has a lot to say about being partial toward others.
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?”
Although James is writing about partiality between the poor and rich, I believe we do this too. Without even realizing it there are people that we just don’t care to talk to and have no desire to get to know. Maybe it’s that widow that we have trouble speaking to, or that wife who doesn’t have any kids, or that new believer that doesn’t understand modesty yet. Think about it. God has revealed in my heart the ways I have done this. What if Christ treated us this way?! How terrible!! So why do we without a thought count someone as less than?
Each member of the Body of Christ is your brother or sister. ALL of them. The newest to the most seasoned. The “greatest” to the “least.” When we struggle to love someone we need to know an EGR is present. It is US. We need extra grace from the Lord because our hearts need help loving-not theirs.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:34-40