Grace: that which gives joy and pleasure — gratifying to the senses — beautiful, lovely, delightful. Grace (charis in the Greek) means sweetness and loving kindness and all things favorable and merciful. Based on the word studies I’ve recently shared for righteousness and justice in my previous posts: Righteousness and Justice: What Are They?, The Justification of the Prodigals, and How to Right a Wrong, grace seems somewhat of a sister word.
I’ve heard grace defined as “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” To be honest, that’s always seemed harsh, and I’m not sure it’s accurate. God’s riches at God’s expense, perhaps — as God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself. (2 Cor 5:19). And we know that Jesus had the Spirit not by measure. This was an effort and a sacrifice of suffering on our behalf by the Holy Trinity in full. Jesus wasn’t left to take the fierceness of the storm all by Himself (though He felt like it for a few moments there). A free gift, and not only free (to us), but also given with all the favor and generosity and over-flowing love of the heart of God. THAT is grace.
I’ve been looking through the uses of charis in the New Testament — well, the gospel accounts, Acts, Romans, and into 1 Corinthians. I didn’t do the entire NT. You could use favor to translate in each and every case without doing violence to the context, or even stretching it — except one passage in the Beatitudes in which Jesus seems to use it to mean “thanks” or similar. It’s translated something like “thanks” in most versions, at any rate.
Another popular definition of grace is that it is God’s enabling power within us to do that which He’s given us to do. In many occasions, grace does take that form — we are freely given ability we could not otherwise have — but is that what grace IS? I’m not a Greek scholar, but in reading the uses of charis in the NT, it seems to me that grace is more the generosity and action and over-the-top love of one (in this case, God) actively giving or empowering or loving or protecting or blessing or pleasuring or acting in any way toward the benefit of the beloved, regardless of personal cost. Whether or not I’ve got that right, the grace of God exceeds that description and more.
I get the picture of a loving father gladly and sweetly and freely sacrificing his own gratification to bless and benefit the child who is his heart. If he has benefited the child, then he himself is benefited far more than if he had sought only his own good.
It is in this grace that we stand, and in this grace we are becoming and being transformed into the image of the Son of His love. That is God’s example and the grace into which we also will be conformed.
Think about it! From all eternity God the Father has emptied Himself into the Son and the Son has poured Himself out to the Father, and the Spirit being given and giving Himself to the Father and the Son. This is the dance He has exemplified for us, and the dance into which we are invited by none other than God Himself.
Righteousness, mercy, justice and grace. Beauty and delightfulness and joy unspeakable and full of glory. That is our God, our Father, Brother, constant Companion and our Beloved.