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Friday, July 24, 2009

Reflecting God's Grace

Is it possible to be a gracious lawyer? I’ve been challenged by this question the past few weeks while doing a study about grace based on a book by Richard Blackaby. Although it’s not always an easy task to shower blessings on someone we consider undeserving – we must allow God’s gracious love for us to motivate us to see others as He sees them.

One of the problems plaguing the legal profession is the misperception in society that all lawyers are just out to make money, demonstrate their superior intellect, win in court at all costs, or consolidate more and more power and prestige for themselves. The root of these attitudes, which admittedly are displayed by many attorneys, may just begin on the first day of law school when a self-absorbed professor encourages a new law student to “think like a lawyer.” The professor then proceeds to question and challenge every conclusion and assumption that the student makes as if the very foundation of the world will crumble if the student can’t learn to analyze the problem exactly as the professor sees the issues.

Law students are taught to question everything, evaluate every facet of a problem, and critically analyze all aspects of their clients’ situations. Although there is significant value in learning to “think like a lawyer, ” students often misinterpret the end game by thinking that they must always develop a detached and cold view of the facts and applicable law in each case. They must see the client for what he or she is so that they can “work the problem” and be careful not to sympathize too much with their clients or see their clients’ potential without maintaining a firm perspective on who they actually are and what actions have characterized them in the past.

Read Ephesians 2:3-5 below and ask: am I worthy of God’s grace? “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” God pours out His undeserved blessings on us when we are reconciled to Him through faith and continues to shower us with his gracious favor in practical ways every day. He recognizes the error of our ways and sees our sin, arrogance, failures, and foolishness. Yet our gracious God looks beyond our unworthiness to see what we can become! Think about it – according to II Corinthians 5:21, God made Him who knew no sin (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us – that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him!

God’s grace is sufficient for us every day. Now he expects us to be conduits of His grace to the world around us. As we “think like lawyers” to solve problems for our clients, let’s never forget to see people as God sees them – for what they can become. And remember it’s not an act of grace if it’s deserved – we may need to direct our kindness, sympathy, generosity, and favor to those still mired in difficult circumstances. Closer to home, do we let our lawyer-like minds impact how we treat our spouses or other members of our families? We should reflect God’s gift of grace to all those around us! II Corinthians 6:1 says it well, “Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.” Don’t receive God’s grace in vain – reflect his grace to all those around you!

~ Associate Professor David Velloney, Regent University School of Law

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