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bookChristian author and editor Philip Yancey has written over 20 books, published in over 50 languages world-wide, deeply exploring some of the most central and mysterious topics of the Christian faith including prayer, the problem of pain, and Christology.

In What’s So Amazing About Grace? (1997), Yancey attempts to define what grace is, as well as what it looks like to extend grace (forgiveness) to others in our own particular lives. He asks us to think about the barriers we erect to giving forgiveness:  Why should I forgive if I’m the one who was wronged?  I’ve tried to talk over the issues, but she just won’t admit her mistakes. This whole situation is her fault, so she should apologize first!

Frequently, these barriers exist between people—oftentimes family members—for years, and are passed down from generation to generation because no one person wants to be “weak” and admit wrongdoing; or, sometimes, no one is brave enough to talk about the issues that the family pretends don’t exist. Yancey walks us through lots of case studies to see the effects of grace withheld as opposed to grace freely given, including numerous Scripture references detailing how Jesus handled forgiveness.

I’m a little over halfway through What’s So Amazing About Grace? and it’s painfully clear how complicated it can be to extend grace in our everyday relationships, which are complex all on their own. But, it’s also clear to see how much grace God has given us and how much he wants us to pass it on.

A good follow-up read would be Yancey’s Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? (2014). You might also want to check out his daily devotional, Grace Notes (2016).