As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m riding a bicycle for exercise. I really enjoy it and go almost every day. One day last month, believe it or not, it rained—in the summer, in California!  Well, it wasn’t really rain, but enough moisture I decided not to ride. I don’t have rain gear and didn’t want to get wet. Not that I’m afraid I’ll melt, I just don’t like going out in the elements without the proper clothing. So not wanting to miss a workout, I pulled out an old exercise DVD.

I started to laugh as Tony Little appeared on the screen, telling me to “conceive, believe and achieve.” I used to work out regularly with Tony and realized I’ve missed his wit and wisdom. As we started into a nice stretch for the back, Tony reminded me to go only as far as I can go. Well, of course, I always say. What else does he expect?

Tony may not realize it, but he has hit upon an essential element of grace. As we each work our way through life, we can go only as far as we are able. We may see someone achieving something wonderful and think, Hey I should be doing that. But if or when we can’t, we may become discouraged and may even give up. We compare ourselves to others, then judge and condemn ourselves. Or others judge and condemn us because they feel we should be just like them.

Grace, that which we receive from God and extend to others and ourselves, allows us to go at our own pace, fall down and get up again, without fear of condemnation. God knows our weaknesses and faults. He knows our strengths and abilities. He doesn’t expect everyone to look alike, act alike or be in the same place in their growth. Some of us have been there and done that and it didn’t work too well.

God values our unique personalities and his grace gives us room to be who we are. We can be happy we have different gifts and talents and give glory to him as we use them to serve him and others. How can we do less for each other? Just as we have received forgiveness and are learning to extend it in return, so we are to honor and respect each other by showing grace in our everyday interactions.

Paul was careful to stay away from making comparisons: “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12, NIV).

Even nature teaches us each star, tree, flower, animal—everything—has its own value, glory and purpose. We are the same, each with our unique place in the world. We have the freedom to do what we do best and not worry about what we can’t do.

God’s grace is a marvelous gift and touches every part of our lives. Go as far as you can go and may his grace be with you on the way.

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