Unearned Favor for Undeserving People*
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Romans 5:20 (NKJV)
Did you ever notice that Paul begins all his letters with a greeting that includes the word grace? Usually he adds the word peace and sometimes he adds the word mercy. Always, however, he highlights grace.
The word grace appears 170 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The first time we read of God’s grace is Genesis 6:8 – “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” That we can easily understand because Noah was God’s man in a wicked world.
Moses also “found grace” in God’s sight. In Exodus 33 God rewarded Moses’ faithful service and humble devotion by allowing him to view His glory in a way no other human being ever had (33:17-23). Moses, too, was a man of stellar faith.
So where does that leave the rest of us, who haven’t built any arks or parted any seas? That’s the whole point of grace. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we do. Grace is a gift—the unearned favor of God given to undeserving people like you and me.
John wrote, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).
That’s the reason Paul begins each of his letters with the phrase, “grace to you.” Every blessing we receive every day of our lives is a gift of grace. We are justified by grace (Romans 3:24). Spiritual gifts are products of grace (Romans 12:6). The ability to witness is a manifestation of grace (Romans 15:5). Even generosity is a result of grace (2 Corinthians 8:1-7).
No wonder hymnwriter John Newton used the adjective “amazing” to describe God’s grace. I don’t think even ten thousand years will be enough time to express our gratitude to God for His grace.
Grace is not listed as a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) or the list of virtues given in 1 Peter 1:5-7. Why not?
Peter tells his readers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Why do you think he pairs those two things?
The Greek word for grace, charis, is similar to the Hebrew word, checed, which is translated in a variety of ways: goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and mercy. Compare Ephesians 2:8-9 with Deuteronomy 7:7-10 for an intriguing look at Old Testament grace.
Denise K. Loock
*Note: This devotion appears in a slightly different form in Open Your Hymnal: Devotions That Harmonize Scripture With Song. To find out more about the book, go to Open Your Hymnal.