What is Grace and Why Does It Matter?
Grace is the essential element in our Christian faith. It is that aspect of our faith that has for so long been misunderstood and in some cases abandoned altogether. Grace is the means by which God rescued us from the penalty of our sins and set us firmly into His family.
What is grace? Grace in Hebrew is the word חָנַן (Chenan), which means the action of showing favor, compassion, or mercy to someone. It literally connotes the idea of a superior stooping down to bestow favor on one who is inferior. It is an action word. Compassion or favor in action. It implies one moving or operating on behalf of another, typically one who is unable to act.
In Greek the word for grace is χάρις (Charis), which means a disposition of goodwill from one to another that results in some action or benefit. Grace implies that someone is in a state or condition of favor, and the one who favors therefore acts on behalf of the one favored.
Grace is essential in understanding Christianity. Grace forces us to realize that what we have in Christ, this free gift of salvation and righteousness, is the product of One who looks favorably down upon us, and chooses to act compassionately on our behalf. Grace implies the action of God on behalf of sinful men and women. An action motivated by love, compassion, and acceptance.
It is by grace that we are saved, meaning that it is the result of the compassionate and loving action of God on our behalf, not the result of anything within us. In fact from a hebraic standpoint, we were unable to operate towards this end, thus we needed a benefactor so to speak.
We are to live as His children, clinging by faith to His grace and that alone. We are to humble ourselves before Him, owning our shortcomings and entreating Him to manifest His grace through our weaknesses. This understanding of grace lifts my spirits and causes me to soar higher than any bird! For it frees me from that pesky voice of performance and perfection that nags at my ear. It enables me to gaze upward towards heaven, into the brilliant and blazing smile of my Abba, and find my security in His care!