Grace in the English language typically means elegance, beauty, or mercy, but in scripture, grace is the foundation of our salvation and redemption. 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 the means that allowed us to be reconciled and restored to righteousness in His sight after the fall. God’s grace is His goodness toward us when we were still sinners and had no reason to expect His favor.
Grace is something I write about a lot, because I think it’s one of the most important aspects of Christianity. However, I also think there are a lot of misconceptions about what God’s grace is and what it means. Here are three I see or hear about most often:
GRACE CAN BE EARNED (OR LOST)
God secured our eternal salvation by sending His son to die on a cross, giving us his unmerited favor and mercy. That is what grace looks like. Because we did nothing to earn it, or deserve it, there’s nothing we can do to lose it.
Ephesians 2:9 says that we are saved, “not by works, so that no one can boast.” Works do not earn us salvation or grace, and thank goodness they don’t. We would constantly be bouncing in and out of redemption, as we struggle to live as Christians in a fallen world.
God’s grace defies our logic and challenges our beliefs about worthiness. Thankfully, there’s no correlation or causation between our works and His grace. Our performances do not determine His grace, our successes do not determine His grace, and our failures do not determine His grace. It is not about our works, but Christ’s finished work on the cross.
GRACE MAKES US PERFECT
Grace does not mean that we don’t need to repent, or turn away from sin. We are not looking at grace the right way if we refuse to correct our behavior or learn lessons because we see ourselves as perfect. Grace doesn’t mean we are perfect; it means we are covered.
Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
We all fall short—if we didn’t, grace wouldn’t be needed—but scripture says we are justified by grace. The enemy can attack us in multiple ways: he can get us to dwell in condemnation, where it feels like we are never good enough and can never live up to God’s standards; or, he can make us think that because we are covered by grace, we aren’t accountable for our actions. Either way, we stop producing fruit because we stop focusing on Jesus and His plan for us.
Grace does not make us perfect, but it does give us Jesus’ perfect standing with God, which enables us to come before Him free of guilt. God’s grace is what allows us to get back up when we fall and turn away from the things that make us stumble.
WE CAN PRODUCE GRACE
A term that’s used a lot is “giving grace” – giving yourself grace, or giving others grace – but I don’t think the term is always used correctly. True, supernatural grace isn’t something we give or don’t give. It’s not something we work for, or earn, and it’s not something we can provide.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20 says, “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”
Grace and the ministry of reconciliation is from God. It’s not so much about giving grace, but how we respond to, and reflect, the grace we’ve been given.
So maybe to “give yourself grace” is simply to remind yourself that you live under the abundant, unending grace that Jesus died to give you. To “give others grace” is to remind yourself and them that they live under the same thing.