Grace is spoken about all the time in the Christian community. God’s grace is exalted, and people are encouraged to show grace to others. But when you grow up in a Christian home, surrounded with stories of God’s grace, grace can become commonplace and unappreciated. I was recently challenged by one of the leaders in my youth group (let’s call her J) with the question “What does grace mean to you?” She told me to write down the answers to the following questions: “What have you believed grace to be?” “What does the bible say grace is?” and “How can you live in that grace?” So I decided to take her up on it and share my answers with you.
When I try to answer J’s first question, “What does grace mean to you?” I got a bit stuck. I’ve got an intellectual knowledge of what grace is, but sometimes it doesn’t really hit home in my heart. If you asked my head, my answer would be along the lines of, “Well, grace is a gift of God, it’s given to us through Jesus, and it’s available to all.” But when I study my heart, I seem to respond differently. I don’t love grace; instead I tend to treat it as if it doesn’t really matter. And that’s where the next question comes in.
So, “What does the Bible say grace is?” Grace is mentioned in nearly 150 verses of the Bible. And in nearly every one of those verses, we are told either of God’s grace or about God’s grace. When something is mentioned that many times, it’s a clue that we should probably listen. Paul tells us that we are saved by grace (Romans 11:5,6), and that grace justifies us before God (Romans 3:24). But what does grace look like? To understand that, we must first understand mercy. Mercy is a gift, just like grace. However, mercy is an overlooking of a fault. Grace, on the other hand, actually acknowledges the fault. Grace says, “Yes, you’ve sinned, but I will take the blame on your behalf.” Grace is what Jesus did on Calvary. Grace takes our blame.
That leads us to our final question: “How can you live in that grace?” There are three main ways that I can see: gratefulness, repentance, and extension. Just like every other part of God’s character, understanding grace allows you to glorify God. The more you understand what grace means, and how gracious God is, you can glorify Him more. For instance, when you realize that through grace Jesus actually takes our blame, you’ll likely praise God that he didn’t simply forgive and forget. When God extends grace, it’s like he’s saying, “I know you’re sinful, but I’ll love you anyway.” Another thing that I love about grace is this: it gives you a reason to stop sinning! When you realize that Jesus took your sin on the cross, then each time you sin, he takes more of your guilt. Again, it’s a cause for praise but, in this case, also for weeping. Finally, when you see God’s grace to you, you can extend it to others. God took your guilt and blame, so you don’t have to get mad if you’re wrongly accused. God made you clean, so why don’t you forgive others of their faults against you?
You know, when I first set out to take up J’s challenge, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t really expect to learn anything new or amazing. I hoped that I wasn’t too off in my idea of grace. But when I got started, I immediately saw how sinful I am and how great God is. Through God’s I learned a lot from this bit of studying. He took my sin and gave me freedom and understanding in return. God gave me life, and I hope to glorify him through his gifts. Have you learned anything amazing about grace recently? Have you been convicted about your own misconceptions about grace? If so, leave a comment or go and pray. Confess your sin to God, and glorify him for his gift of grace!