Today it is widely accepted that grace means, God’s unmerited favor. While the definition cannot be denied, there’s much more to grace. This skewed narrow-minded view on the meaning of grace gives us an incorrect prospective on its use and power. It is damaging to the glorious nature of God’s grace.
Many words have multiple meanings; grace is one of them. Once saved by grace: both God’s unmerited favor and His divine influence, we learn to live by the same.
The Greek word charis (khar’ece) means:
Paul lived by grace: he was told after praying three times for relief; "My grace is sufficient for you." Paul was already a Christian; God was telling him, he would be able to live through his circumstance. But how? In Paul’s strength, God forbid, rather in the strength of Jesus Christ! And where does that strength come from? The one Christ sent us: the Holy Spirit. Now then, with the Holy Spirit, which is God living in us, we can do all things because He is doing them by God’s power not ours: that power is God’s divine influence; it is God’s grace.
There are times we do good, yet with ill or selfish motives, thus the credit of good is lost, but other times they are done of a motive simply to please God. I don’t know about you, but for me those are the times I battle with the flesh the most. Why? Those are the times God is influencing me to do good, but in the flesh, I want to resist. Many times I’ve yielded and obeyed, but many more, I’ve not yielded and allowed the flesh to override the promptings God has given me. God wants a willing heart, not a forced one.
In either case, I’m the same person. What was the difference? Grace, God influencing me above my own fleshly desires to do His will. For example, I’ve always wanted a convertible; I love the wind in my face and hair while driving. Back some years ago, God allowed me to own one. It was a used chop top, someone cut the top of and made it into a convertible, a “68” or “69” BMW. I loved it! It needed some bodywork and paint so I got estimates and handed it over to a body shop. To shorten story, the shop tried to cheat me. I won in court by only having to pay the original amount agreed to, but every time I got in the car the circumstances flooded my mind. Being one that struggled with bitterness, it seemed more than I could bear. God brought to mind Scripture: if a man sues you for your shirt, give him your coat also.
After much “divine influence” aka grace, a friend and I drove down to the shop and I gave the car to the man that sued me. My friend thought I was nuts, but in obeying God’s Word I experienced a freedom from bitterness I never know possible! Grace, God’s grace is amazing! Yielding to it is the greatest joy I’ve ever experienced. As for the convertible, I’d still like one someday and who knows maybe I’ll have the privilege. The Chrysler’s Sebring looks good and even I can fit in the back seat, a luxury many convertibles don’t have. I like cars that can hold more than two people comfortably.