If you’re anything like me and grew up in the church, or even if you are new to Christianity but you’ve been going to church recently, you’ve probably heard the word “grace” thrown around a lot. God’s grace, giving grace, having grace, receiving grace…grace grace grace. I think we can hear something over and over without really understanding it. I mean, I hear people talk about our economy but I still don’t really understand how it works because I’ve never studied it. Never wanted to, still won’t. But, I have grown up hearing about grace and I don’t think I truly understand what it is or what it means or how it applies to my life. I mean, if someone were to ask me right now, “What is grace?” I don’t think I could give them a real answer. So, let’s take this walk of grace together and learn all about it! By the end of this post, we should both be able to answer “What is grace?” with confidence!
What is Grace?
Grace, as defined by Webster’s dictionary, is “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings” but it also means “the condition or fact of being favored by someone; courteous goodwill; and a period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favor.”
So, grace is the gift of God’s favor to us that can’t be earned and is shown through our salvation and also through the numerous blessings He bestows on us throughout our lives. But, grace is also just being favored by someone or showing someone goodwill that they didn’t earn, or even an extension on a sum that is owed.
The most talked about use of grace is in relation to God. Now, I’m not going to put every verse on grace in this post because it would become extremely long, but the Bible talks a lot about grace. And here are a few of the verses (if you want more, head over to biblegateway.com and type in “grace”):
And the child (Jesus) grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him. (Luke 2:40)
16 Out of His fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17)
Through Him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for His name’s sake. (Romans 1:5)
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21-26)
So, we see that grace was not only in Jesus as He grew up, but grace came to us through Jesus’ sacrifice – His death and resurrection.
Although grace is partly about salvation, I think many times you can almost replace the word “grace” with “favor.” God’s favor is grace to us because we don’t deserve it and we can’t do anything to earn it, but God gives it to us anyway because He loves us.
Giving Grace to Others
But grace is not just from God. We can give grace to others. For example, when we choose to become friends with someone, we are extending a kind of grace. They didn’t necessarily do anything to earn friendship – most friendships start off with simply a “hello,” so how can someone earn it? Instead, to me friendship is a form of grace – we (both parties) are extending grace to one another. We’re saying, in effect, “I don’t really know you. You haven’t done anything to necessarily stand out or to earn my trust or favor, but I like you. I choose to spend time with you. I choose to trust you. You are now my friend.”
Grace also applies to marriages. Maybe your spouse did something to hurt you or upset you, but you decide to forgive and let it go. Now, that’s what we’re called to do in God’s Word, but I still see it as a form of grace. We’re basically saying to our spouse, “You may not have earned forgiveness. Maybe you didn’t even ask for it. But I choose to forgive you anyway. Not only do I forgive you, but I’ll never bring up what you did because I have chosen to let it go.”
We all need grace in our lives, grace from God and grace to and from others. We can’t earn everything in life, despite what the “American Dream” may tell us. Sometimes we just need to accept the grace we’re given and be thankful.
I hope you understand now what grace is: it is favor that isn’t earned, from God and from others. May we all extend grace to those in our lives and receive grace from our Heavenly Father today!