Thursday, April 20, 2006

Grace and gratitude

Laura,

If you don't mind me asking, last week there was a word that kept coming up throughout my study and I have never really understood what it means in the Bible—"Grace." My only interpretation of that word can be defined as "not clumsy" or "a beautiful dancer." What is your understanding of its Bible meaning??

Brittany

Brittany,

I love your question about Grace. You're right, the Bible writers had a different meaning in mind. I've heard it described as "undeserved blessing." Meaning, even when we don't deserve it, we are blessed by God and goodness rains down on us. It's a deeply Christian concept, tied to the teaching that Jesus died for our sins, which is the ultimate expression of grace. That he willingly sacrificed so that we would gain freedom from sin, disease and death.

Laura

I’ve been thinking more about Brittany’s question since that email exchange. I found a strong general definition of grace on Answers.com. And I looked through all the Bible references that include the word grace.

There’s a lot in the Hebrew Testament about finding “grace in thy sight,” either from God or from a person. It’s like Definition 5 from Answers.com: “A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.”

Definition 8 elaborates on this sense of favor with these meanings:

  1. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
  2. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
  3. An excellence or power granted by God.

When someone does you a favor, not as a quid pro quo but because they love you or even just because they’re a nice person and may not even know you, that’s grace. The driver who lets you into the lane on the highway—that’s grace. The neighbor who tells you when your garage door is open. The police officer who patrols your street. The lawmaker who strives to look out for your best interests. The search-and-rescue professionals ready to risk their lives to save you if you get lost. All this is grace in practice.

These are a reflection of divine grace, that constant flow of good that comes to us from the Divine, which we can never fully deserve in this mortal state but which is ours by birthright as creations of the Divine.

I think grace is essential. It’s a fundamental part of our connection to Spirit that characterizes the relationship. It’s not just because God is all good and therefore must impart never-ending grace, although this is true. It’s also because without grace, there would be no gratitude.

Think about it. If every iota of good in our lives had to be earned and deserved, we’d never feel any gratitude. It’s the moments of surprise, the sense of being given a gift, that makes the gratitude well up in our hearts. God’s gift to us, constant grace, makes us aware of His presence because we know we haven’t done anything to evoke it. It’s just there, and we are awed and grateful.

Some more thoughts on grace, from the Bible and Science and Health:

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

--John 1:17

Grace and Truth are potent beyond all other means and methods.

--67:23

For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

--5:19-21

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

--Rom 6:14

The miracle of grace is no miracle to Love.

--494:15 (only)


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