Who? GRACE What?
We recently celebrated the 12th birthday of our granddaughter Grace Elizabeth. As we observed this milestone in her life, it gave me the opportunity to think about two different ways in which the word spelled “g-r-a-c-e” can be used. Let me share my insights with you, my Reader.
Grace: (proper noun) feminine personal name
According to this definition of grace, I think about two of our granddaughters: Grace Elizabeth and Anna Grace. In recent years Grace has become a popular name for girls. However, I wonder if these girls understand the spiritual significance of their name.
This question causes me to more deeply explore what “grace” is all about.
Grace: (noun) God giving us what we do not deserve
The definition I have just shared with you is one of the simplest, most common biblical definitions for grace. This is how I personally understood the meaning of grace until about 12 years ago when I listened to a series of teachings on grace by Don Meares. These teachings gave me a much deeper revelation of this spiritual gift offered to me by God. His definition of grace stated:
“Grace is the empowering presence of God enabling
you to be what God has created you to be
and to do what God has called you to do.”
My Reader, please take time with me today to delve into what all these words really mean.
The first phrase tells me that grace is God’s empowering presence. Through grace, God imparts to me His own presence that contains divine power. Galatians 2:20 tells me that if I am crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me – that is His presence in me! Philippians 4:13 tells me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – that is His power! These scriptures help me understand the meaning of the first phrase of this more complex definition of grace.
The next part of Meares’ explanation of grace is that God enables me to be who He created me to be. So, I ask, “Who did God create me to be?” There are probably many facets to this answer, but I want to consider just one now. James 4:6 tells me that God gives grace to the humble while He opposes the proud. I see a direct correlation between grace and humility. That tells me that being humble is one thing I not only need to be, but also have the ability to be because of God’s enabling presence in my life. I like that!
Now I proceed to the last part of this definition of grace that proclaims that God enables me to do all He has called me to do. This leads to another question: What has He called me to do? Ephesians 2:10 tells me that I am created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God has prepared for me. Hmmm. I guess I need to know what these specific good works are! I continue to look in scripture and I find Luke 4:18-19 where Jesus says that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him and He was anointed to proclaim the good news to the poor. He was sent to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind. He was also to set the oppressed free and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. If these were the works for Jesus, they are also the works for me because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me according to Philippians 4:13. Grace truly is amazing when I ponder all that is included within this word!
My Reader, having just shared a detailed explanation of an in-depth definition of grace, there is one more point I want both you and me to remember. This fact is that grace is a gift whether we define it with only a few words or with multiple words. Ephesians 2:8 says,
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Grace is not something I can just decide that I want to obtain for myself. It is a gift from God that I must accept with gratitude and use wisely.
The Sweetness of Grace
In conclusion for today, I want to make an analogy between grace and candy. I previously said that grace is a gift. So, picture yourself receiving a gift of candy. It is nice to receive it, but you will not truly benefit from it until you unwrap the candy and put it in your mouth. Then to thoroughly enjoy it, you must chew it and savor its taste. For the full benefit of this candy, you must give it time to be digested into your system and changed into energy that your body can use. This would be the full intent of the giver of the gift. Now apply this sequence of actions to grace. Grace is a gift given to you by God. According to Ephesians 2:8, you accept this gift by faith – that is by believing and trusting God. He tells you about this gift in scripture, but until you unwrap these verses by faith and apply them to your life, they will not be of benefit to you. However, as you personally claim and proclaim scriptures that say you are in Christ and Christ is in you, God’s empowering presence will be evident within you. According to II Corinthians 5:17, you are a new creation in Christ. You are now who God created you to be! Just as you receive energy from candy, you can receive power from God’s Word. James 1:22 says that we are not only to be hearers of God’s Word but also doers. And, going back to Ephesians 2:10, you will then be able to do what He has called you to do.
This is a gift I desire to receive! God’s grace is composed of the presents of His presence and power. My Reader, I hope you also desire to receive and utilize this gift of grace. The gift of grace can be just as sweet as a gift of candy.
Challenge for this week: Sing the song Amazing Grace and think about the meaning of the words.