by Lee Ann Mancini
I love music! When I hear an old familiar song, it brings back memories of when I first heard it. But sometimes the words suddenly take on a new dynamic, even though I’ve heard them hundreds of times before. Like the other day, when after listening to one of the Beatles’ blockbuster hits, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. And it’s no wonder: at the very end of the song, “All you need is love” is repeated twenty-five times! As it continued to echo in my mind, I found myself wondering: is love all we really need?
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 lists the benefits of true biblical love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” Colossians 3:14 states that love binds all the virtues together in perfect unity. God commanded us to love one another as He loves us (John 15:12). And remember, love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
We all exhibit love in some capacity. Most people love their families, friends, and neighbors. But obviously, love has not been enough to keep us from family problems, political division, or racial conflict. On its own, love cannot bring peace. So what is the missing piece of the puzzle?
We need more grace.
Grace can bring peace to any relationship. Grace is practicing unconditional favor towards those who don’t deserve it. Grace is love in action. It chooses others over ourselves. We’ve been given abundant grace by God—Paul described the grace of God as lavish (Ephesians 1:7-8). It was grace that enabled us to receive salvation (Ephesians 2:8).
The thing is, grace and intended retribution cannot simultaneously exist in our hearts.
All we need is love and grace. John Newton, who wrote the song Amazing Grace, was once a slave trader. It was God’s grace that changed him. In gratitude, he wrote,
“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found: was blind, but now I see.”
As racial tensions and anger unfold this spring, I’ve been examining my heart. Where am I blind to the needs of others? How can I reach out and bridge the gap that stubbornly continues in this country? Why can’t love be enough?
I would say that love is crucial to all of us understanding each other. But we need grace as well. Grace says I have done nothing to earn favor with God. Recipients of grace know: “I was lost but now I see. I was hopeless and now I have hope. I am unworthy but God has made me His daughter. I was helpless to fix my sin, but Jesus paid my debt.”
The important thing to remember is that spiritually, we are all coming from the exact same place. We are sinners in need of a Savior. None of us can be righteous on our own. We all need Jesus and owe everything to Him. We all need God’s unconditional love.
When we understand what we have been given, in spite of our failures and sin, we can let the abundant love and grace we have been given spill over into the lives of others. Forgiving those who have wronged us becomes the only reasonable option. God’s grace can set us free to love as He loves.
The two really do go hand in hand.
Then summoning him, his lord said to him, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you? Matthew 18:32-33 NASB
About the author: Lee Ann Mancini is an adjunct professor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary. She is the executive producer of the Sea Kids animation series https://seakidstv.com that helps children to build a strong foundation in Jesus.
Lee Ann’s books, The Sea Kids series, has won over 25 awards, and is a favorite among teachers, parents, and especially children! In I’m Not Afraid!, Susie and her friend go to the Undersea Amusement Park. After saying a prayer to Jesus, she rides the roller coaster and her fear turns into faith! She learns that praying to Jesus during difficult times and having faith are all she needs to overcome her fears!
Join the conversation: Of the two, which is more challenging for you–giving love or giving grace?