Grace Defined

grace-cloulds-and-rainI am sure you hear it every where too, the 5 letter word thrown around in Christian circles, the one that makes your shoulders less tense, drop, relax, makes you take a deep sigh of relief, the famous little word, most delightful, feel-goodish, excusing little word, written in pallet board that adorns our homes, the one used to calm the chocoholic inside all of us, when we’ve indulged way too much and need just a little grace on the calories (wink, wink).  It’s the little word that excuses you when you’ve just bought your 61st pair of shoes that you DIDN’T NEED.

The word grace is a word that contains power and honor and authority.  I’ve been bothered by the humdrum way we use it and throw it around.  So I decided to probe and dig deep and see what grace really means.

In scripture we see 2 types of grace.  In Esther 2:17 King Xerxes finds grace {favor} in Queen Esther.  This type of grace is man-given and man-earned.  It has two criteria, one is subjective and the other objective.  The king found favor in the queen because of her beauty (subjective) and she met the kings criteria (objective).  She earned his grace.

In the New Testament we see a new type of grace. A grace that is God-given, impossible to be man-earned.

In John 1:17 we see the definition of grace and the difference between earning grace and it being given to us despite our condition.

“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”

We received the Ten Commandments through Moses that revealed we can not earn grace because we aren’t “good” enough.  Hence, addictions like shoe shopping and chocolate eating. And fill in the blank with your own issues (we all got ’em). The grace that Jesus brought was this:His favor (taken from the greek work used in John 1:17:charis pronounced har-es) for humanity because of simple, unadulterated, love.  Not earned- given simply because He made you.  You are His even if you don’t accept that yet.  It is His spirit impressed on our spirit that influences us toward Christ and the Christian faith- the enabler of strength that pushes us to live out love even when people don’t deserve it, nor ask for it, nor think they need it.  It is the spiritual stuff that has hands that support us  from behind as we trudge through this life in the darkness, as we walk through quiet deserted valleys, and high mountains without jumping off a cliff.  And yes the stuff that that changes a shoe addict into a recovered shoe addict.

There is one small but big caveat to this grace.  And it is accepting it.  Grace is a noun.  It’s a {spiritual} thing.  It is something you can accept or you can reject.  But you gotta do something with it.  It’s the gift that keeps on showing up, like the image of the fruit cake except good tasting.  It’s the gift that will keep on popping up on your door step that you gotta figure out what to do with, cause it ain’t going away. You either make fruit cake turn into filet-mignon (and if you’re a Christian walking in grace already you know exactly what I mean) or you throw it in the trash.

Grace is played out in John 8:1-11. The adulterous woman got more from her experience with Jesus than she thought she’d ever get. She not only got forgiveness (she thought she get condemnation), she got grace.  His last word to her was ‘go and sin no more’.  He didn’t just want to forgive her he wanted to change her.  Here, we see the impact of God’s grace…change.  We become different.

Grace is a gift of forgiveness and change.  He didn’t tell her “Go on girl I forgive you, keep on doing your thing” or “It’s all good do what makes you feel good”. No, because its impossible for grace to reside in our hearts without change. A good Father never encourage us to live a life that is harmful or destructive or dishonoring to Himself.  Change is the evidence that grace lives in us, that we have put this beautiful little noun on our backs and it now clothes us from head to toe, inside and out.

The take home (in a shoe box), God-given grace is forgiveness and change.

So, how are you doing in the grace department?  Are you living in the true grace of God?  What does grace look like in your life?  What have you misunderstood about grace?



4 thoughts on “Grace Defined

  1. A friend once reminded me, after I groaned about the chaos of life, that I needed to have grace for myself. Thank you for reminding me that grace isn’t just forgiveness! It’s a hope of change – sometimes change I don’t have control over, and that’s a good thing.


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