Grace – Part 1
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:3 NIV)
"Grace" is a key word in all the writings of the apostle Paul. In fact, he uses it as a greeting to the believers in all of his New Testament letters, saying, in essence, “I am praying that there might be grace in your life.”
A person who doesn’t understand the word “grace,” doesn’t understand Christianity. There are people now living in needless condemnation because they don’t understand grace. On the other hand, there are people who are living compromised lives, practicing sin while going regularly to church; and, curiously, it’s also because they don’t understand grace. A lack of acknowledgement of grace quickly turns into legalism and condemnation; while a misuse of the word makes a person think that they can do whatever they want with impunity while professing to be a believer, because “God is going to work it all out” for them in the end. These are the two extremes in the lack of understanding of this beautiful word “grace.”
We know what grace is not; but what can we say about what grace is? There are many definitions, including the one that juxtaposes it with “mercy,” declaring that mercy is God not giving us what we deserve, while grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve. Here’s another thought: The Bible says that we’re saved by grace through faith. Faith appropriates, or takes hold of, the grace; but it is by grace that we’re saved. Why? Because God so loved the world that he sent his Son…. That’s love in action. Since God is love, then, grace can be defined as all of God’s actions toward us as his people. Anything God does in our lives, therefore, is grace. Does he give you guidance in a difficult situation? That’s grace. Does he give you strength when you’re running out of gas? That’s grace. When he heals a broken heart, that too is an act of grace.
This tells us that everything God does by grace in our lives is unearned. If we had earned it, it wouldn’t be grace; it would then be God paying us back. When you get a salary check, it’s because you worked for it; but if a person walks up to you and says, “God impressed me to give this to you,” that’s a gift; that’s grace. In fact, anything God does in our lives is a gift.
To be continued...
Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9.