This quote is creditted to a man by the name ofJohn Bradford , a Protestant who was martyred in England in the 16th century.
On seeingseveral criminals being led into the scaffold he remarked, ‘there but for the grace of God’ goes John Bradford. His words without his name are still very common today.
I originally heard this phrase as a response to learning of someone else’s mistake or sin. It carried the message, “Take care not to point fingers or judge; you have your own struggles with imperfection and sin.”
John Bradford, however, was expressing gratitude for another day alive and the understanding that God was having mercy on him.
It seems that we could apply this both ways in our modern world:
It is true that we need God’s grace to live holy lives.
It is also true that we do well not to judge others or look on their circumstances without compassion and mercy.
What happens to one group of people can happen to another.
I am thinking of the ban on people from countries that are largely Muslim who want to travel to the United States. Brothers and sisters, the Bible says that we will face persecution. We are as vulnerable as Muslims, Iraqis, Sudanese, Syrians and all of the other people who are being denied entry, or even detained. That is why we must stand with them in resisting this injustice.
“There but for the grace of God go I.” Next time, it could be Christians.