Grace

I googled “grace.”

Perhaps I should back up just a bit. 

A friend suggested I look for grace in my life and be obedient to what I see.

Another suggested I respond with love when dealing with difficult people.

Both suggestions sound like the “grace” I’ve heard of all my life – God’s grace.  

So, I googled “grace” thinking I would find a simple definition and an easy understanding of something I have difficulty grasping, even at this age and stage of my life.

From the list of possibilities the search window offered I’m guessing I’m not the only one confused by grace.

Possibilities in the drop-down-window included:

grace definition

grace definition catholic

grace defiintion webster

grace definition christian

…bible

…wikipedia

…name

…religious

…greek

…biblical

So, which “grace” is it?

I think I’ll take them in the order in which they appreared on the drop down window – as they are above.

grace (definition)  1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion. 2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement. 3. A sense of fitness or propriety. 4. a. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill. b. Mercy;  clemency. 5. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence. 6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve. 7. Graces Greek & Roman Mythology Three sister goddesses, known in Greek mythology as Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, who dispense charm and beauty. 8.  a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people. b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God. c. An excellence or power granted by God. 9. A short prayer of blessing or thanksgiving said before or after a meal. 10. Grace Used with His, Her, or Your as a title and form of address for a duke, duchess, or archbishop. 11. Music An appoggiatura, trill, or other musical ornanment in the music of 16th and 17th century England.

Oh…wow.  That didn’t help much.  4. and 5. perhaps touch on it and, of course, 8., too. But, something’s missing.  Even this list of definitions for “grace” doesn’t clear my confusion. 

As a Protestant, I’m not sure if looking into the Catholic definition of “grace” will be a help to me, but if I’m to be fair – well…how can I not? 

How can I not? I can hardly understand what this says – if I can ‘t understand the jargon how can I understand the Catholic view of grace?  And, if that’s not enough, there’s another page talking about a different kind of grace…I think.  No…I’ll move on and find something easier to understand.

The last time I used the online Webster’s dictionary, my PC developed a virus so I think I’ll skip that one.  I’m sure it’s similar to the definitions obtained from thefreedictionary.com.

Christian is next and I hope that means it will be familiar.

Ha ha ha.  Oh, no….  What should be simple is all too often not.  Take this site as example. The title is “What is the Meaning of Grace?” Three sentences into the first paragraph I came across this sentence:  “Any diligent student studying a subject in college would not remotely expect to thoroughly understand that subject without a proper understanding of the fundamental words of the subject.” (Loyd Hohertz)

What?

Next – the Bible’s definition of grace. 

And, once again I am confronted with a multitude of possibilities – how to choose?

In Lonnie York’s article, What is Grace?, two sentences beg to be posted here – one from the first paragraph and one from the fourth.

“Whenever the word “grace” is used in a religious context, the thought of “God’s unmerited favor” comes to mind. ”

“One problem of misunderstanding the doctrine of Grace is assuming that the word “Grace” possesses only one meaning.”

No thanks.  I’m not after a Bible lesson or theological discussion. I want a simple answer to the question – what is grace?

Next on the list is Wikipedia. Dare I trust it? Perhaps the better question is – which link do I choose?  There are several Wikipedia entries on grace.   Divine Grace, Grace (Christianity), Prevenient Grace. So confusing! 

I settled on Grace (Christianity) – Wikipedia.  And, I quote:

In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man – “generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved”[1] – that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners. Christian orthodoxy has taught that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God. Once God has reached out in this “first grace,” however, each person has the option to accept it or reject it, and a responsibility for the continuance of the relationship, though the Calvinist idea of irresistible grace says that a person cannot resist the efficacious call of God to salvation.

The concept of grace has been called “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern liberalism from conservatism.”[2] The Catholic Church holds that grace is bestowed in a particular way through sacraments, while Protestantism almost universally does not. Calvinists emphasize “the utter helplessness of man apart from grace.” Arminians understand the Grace of God to be cooperating with one’s abilities and will. According to Christian theologian Charles C. Ryrie, Modern Liberalism “gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to effect his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace.” He writes that conservatism holds that God’s grace is necessary for salvation.[2]

And, of that quote I will remove the first part – “…grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is…a spontaneous gift from God to man – ‘generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved’ – that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency.”

Hubby glanced at my thoughts earlier and set about creating a document.  It lies before me printed, two sheets, and stapled.  Bless him. On the first page is the simple title: GRACE.  The first paragraph follows:

Favor or kindness shown without regard to the worth or merit of the one who receives it and in spite of what that same person deserves.  Grace is one of the key attributes of God. The Lord God is ‘merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.’ (Exodus 34:6). Therefore, grace is almost always associated with mercy, love, compassion, and patience as the source of help and with deliverance from distress.

The third paragraph begins: “The grace of God was supremely revealed and given in the person and work of Jesus Christ.”

With thanks to my pastor hubby (and Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers).

What a shame…it took me – a Christian and believer in the person and work of Jesus Christ for over 45 years – hours to find out what grace is. And, if it’s this difficult for me – how impossible it must seem for those who truly do not know grace, have never heard that it is “unmerited favor.”

Or, perhaps without religion to cloud one’s vision and scramble the mind, it’s easier to understand grace outside of the religious framework.

Now – there’s a thought.  

 

 

 

 

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