Grace. Amazing grace. Redeeming grace. Grace divine. Saving grace. There are many definitions of grace that Christians and non-Christians alike tend to use for various situations. But what does it really mean? And how can you use it in your own life?
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines grace as “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.” In other words, grace is something received by people like you and me to help us out in our day-to-day lives. It is sent down from a godly being just because.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ”Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” While we do nothing to deserve God’s grace, it is nonetheless granted us out of the eternal good nature of our God.
Grace is mentioned specifically in the Bible a number of times, and is referenced throughout the entire Bible in the numerous good deeds bestowed by the Lord. Specific definitions are interspersed mainly throughout the New Testament, including a passage from Romans :
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. —Romans 3:23-25
And another New Testament passage, this one from Ephesians, also references the sins of man and how we are saved only by the grace of God:
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:4-10
And finally, one of the most recognizable uses of the word grace in the Bible is found in John:
John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.—John 1:15-17
Of course, if you read carefully, you’ll find many more instances of grace in the Bible, whether it is mentioned in name specifically or otherwise. But what does grace mean in our own 21st-century lives? Does it mean that we can go out and simply do whatever we please because, after all, God’s grace will save us? Of course not. God’s grace is never-ending, but we quickly learn not to tempt God. Have you committed a sin that needs forgiving? Yes, you will be forgiven through grace. And mercy.
To create a definition meaningful to you, sit down and think about the factors in your life and how they merge together. Think about the good and the less-than-stellar deeds you have made recently and their outcomes. What can you do to change your life for the better? Ultimately, this is what God hopes for us – to live full and meaningful lives. It is his grace that allows that to happen.
In the end, grace is defined differently by different people, according to their circumstances and experiences. What does grace mean to you? And how can it change your life?