Grace Defined

Do you love puzzles? I enjoy a good puzzle. (Don’t you have a little celebration in your heart every time you get a piece in?!) Putting a puzzle together piece by piece takes time and patience. But slowly, as each piece fits, you stand back and see your beautiful picture. (Even if that means it is a spread of delectable cupcakes in all its glory.) I came across my own “puzzle” of sorts when the Lord put on my heart to do a Bible study of the word “grace.” I had realized that I didn’t understand what the word “grace” meant. I had heard definitions, but most of them just confused me. I sang hymns about it with the rest of my church family, but I was clueless. It wasn’t until fitting together the pieces from God’s Word that I saw the big picture! Have you felt the same way about the word grace? Let’s look at the puzzle pieces and put it all together.

One of the first pieces for me came from 2 Corinthians 12:9. Do you recall when Paul had a thorn in the flesh? What did he do about it? He asked God to remove it. In 2 Corinthians 12:8, the Bible says, “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” When we are overwhelmed, the first thing we want is “OUT!” But, God responded to Paul in a very unexpected way. Verse 9 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” When God, in essence, told Paul “No,” He revealed He had something much better for Paul: Himself. In God’s reply to Paul, He reveals that…

1) Grace is God’s strength.

“My grace…my strength.” He shows Paul what grace is when He explains that His “strength is made perfect in weakness.” If grace is God’s strength, then obviously yet importantly, it is NOT my strength. Paul was brought to a place where his strength was insufficient to remove his thorn. He came to a place of desperation and utter dependence. If he had never had this thorn, he never would have known God’s grace. God’s strength is supernatural. Unexplainable. What was once unnatural for you becomes supernatural. It is unnatural to carry a burden with a smile on your face and peace in your heart. But because of God’s own strength, it becomes possible, supernatural.

You can almost hear Paul’s jubilation in the next sentence. When he received God’s reply, he seems almost ecstatic to have the thorn, because it meant he’d have God. “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul acknowledges that…

2) Grace is God’s power.

God’s almighty power put the stars in the heavens, gave the flowers their beauty, formed the majestic mountains, and breathed life into man. If His power can form a universe with just a word, then God can give power to carry you through your darkest trial. God’s power does not compare to anything on this earth. It is completely above us. The power God used to speak “Peace, be still” to the disciples’ storm is still powerful to speak the same peace to your storm. That power can give joy in sorrow. Boldness to the timid. Grace over a thorn. Just like Paul, we can be overjoyed, not to have difficulty, but to have God’s power in it.

One more thing about grace before you go. James 4:6 says “But he giveth more grace…”

3) God’s grace is given.

Look at a few more verses.

1 Peter 5:5 “…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
Romans 12:16 “…according to the grace that is given to us…”
Ephesians 4:7 “But unto every one of us is given grace…”

You say “Ok, ok! I get it. Grace is given. What’s the big deal?” It’s important to realize this truth because it’s so easy to think that I can earn God’s power and strength. It’s easy to think that I can “work up” a feeling of God’s power. Or to think that people in ministry (missionaries, pastor’s wives, etc.) get special, exclusive access to this grace. But these verses clearly teach that God gives grace.

Putting all the pieces from God’s Word together, we see that grace is simply God’s power and strength given to us. After discovering its definition, do you see your need for daily grace? Although a Christian receives grace for salvation, he also needs grace for service. Serving others with patience, controlling anger, witnessing with boldness, keeping our tongues in check- all of these and more require grace to live a life pleasing to the Lord. Do you need it? Will you ask Him for it?