What is grace? Although one can look up the definition in a dictionary, the best way to understand grace is to be shown grace. I had heard the word hundreds of times before I began to comprehend it. Grace became clear when I saw my dad demonstrate it by forgiving someone. He gave that person grace because of the grace that God has given him. When I saw my earthly father display this genuine act of forgiveness and love, it made me aware of my Heavenly Father’s grace. I didn’t learn the definition of grace from a dictionary, but from a living example. When we look to God’s word, grace is one of the most prominent themes in the Old and New Testament. The Old portrays our need for it, while the New tells the story of the man who died because of it.
We can’t wrap our heads around grace because it’s of God. If we could fully comprehend it, it would have limits, and God has no limits. God’s act of giving His children grace reveals a huge part of His character. God is holy, so He cannot be near sin. Romans tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). This is affirmation that I’m not the only one who has sinned and falls short daily. We can’t put ourselves, or others, on a pedestal of holiness because no one is perfect. No matter how much we desire to be good, we can’t meet the standard God requires. In the Old Testament, God’s people were given grace through animal sacrifices. If this first born animal had any defect, they could not sacrifice it to the Lord (Deut. 15:21). Thankfully, God sent His Son to die for our sins. He was “like that of a lamb without defect or blemish” (1 Peter 1:19). Christ was absolutely perfect, and when we accept God’s gift of forgiveness and grace, He redeems us.
God has been gracious for all time. In Deuteronomy 15, God tells His people to “not be hardhearted or tightfisted…Instead, you are to open you hand…and freely loan him enough for whatever need he has” (v. 7-8). In verses one through eleven, He commands them to cancel their neighbor’s debt after seven years. This is symbolic of how the Lord “erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). God also commanded the people to free their slaves after seven years (v. 12-18). They weren’t supposed to send their slaves away empty-handed, but to give generously to them. God freed us from being slaves to sin. In Romans 6:14 He says, “For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.” Because of Jesus, we don’t have to run to restore our relationship with God. We have the freedom to rest in the redemptive power of Christ’s death and resurrection. Like the freed slaves in the Old Testament, God doesn’t free us and send us away empty-handed. 2 Corinthians 2:9 promises that “God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.” When we accept Christ, God blesses us immediately with abundant life here on earth, eternal life in heaven when we die, “a spirt of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7), the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23), and so much more. He’s been giving sinners grace since the beginning of time, and He’ll continue to do so forever.
It doesn’t stop there. Our gracious Father asks His children to give grace to others. God NEVER said forgiving others would be easy. I can’t imagine it was easy for God to send His Son to die for us, but He did it because He loves us more than we could ever imagine, and He knew He would receive glory in the end. Don’t think by forgiving someone you’re condoning their actions. Writer Max Lucado wrote, “You don’t approve the deeds of your offender when you [forgive someone]. Jesus didn’t approve your sins by forgiving you…Grace is not blind. It sees the hurt full well. But grace chooses to see God’s forgiveness even more. It refuses to let hurts poison the heart.” If we’re going to raise our hands and praise God for giving us grace, we have to be willing to extend it to others. The Bible doesn’t reserve grace for a specific group of people. Jesus was very intentional about forgiving all types of people, including an adulteress (John 8:2-11) and a Jewish rabbinic student originally named Saul (Acts 9). Therefore, we should be inclined to forgive others in the same capacity. God doesn’t expect us to conjure up this grace, but said, “MY grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinth. 12:9, emphasis mine). God supplies the grace that He asks us to give to others.
Realize that God’s grace is beyond what our brains can fully understand, and accept it. Accept God’s amazing grace, glorify Him for it, and let it fuel you to extend it to others. God has tasked us with making His name famous, and I couldn’t think of a better way to do it than by telling and showing others His grace.
- Lucado, Max, and James L. Lund.Wild Grace. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012. Print.