I don’t mean I’m incapable unless God helps me. I mean, giving grace is a prerogative of God alone.
It’s popular now to talk about how we need to give grace to others, but the way people are using the word—meaning forgiveness and kindness and love—diminishes the meaning of the remarkable word “grace” until it loses the vital meaning it should have.
In all the New Testament, nobody gives grace but God. Nobody shows grace but God. It’s from God alone.
I’ve heard various definitions for the word grace through the years, but a lot of them seem to me to fall short. My favorite is a little one that captures it all: “the divine inflow-outflow of God.” I love it. I even like that it’s redundant. It starts with “divine” and it ends with “of God.” There is no ambiguity about the fact that this is something only He has the privilege of doing.
Read the New Testament with all its crucial references to grace, and substitute that meaning. Look at this one: “You are not under Law, but under Grace” (Romans 6:14-15). Oh, do you get that meaning?
You, as a truster of Christ Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit within, are no longer under that blinding light that to your horror is showing you every microscopic bit of dirt on your person.
Instead, you’re under a waterfall. You stand with your mouth open receiving the life-giving inflow of God. And, as Jesus promised in John 7, it then flows out of your innermost being. It flows to others who desperately need that Living Water. When they taste of it, then they themselves want to stand under the waterfall, drinking in the divine inflow, through the power of the Holy Spirit flowing it out.
How is the grace accessed? Is it by simply knowing that it’s there? Is it by asking forgiveness (the “freedom-and-sin-and-forgiveness” cycle)? This grace, this empowering, transforming, life-giving grace is accessed through faith and only through faith, not by any works that we can do. “You are saved [present tense] by grace through faith,” Ephesians 2 tells us. By a constant gaze-shifting to focus on Jesus Christ alone as all our Hope, and our only Hope.
Is it “mystical”? Maybe. Is it spiritual? Definitely. Is it “common-sense Christianity,” as some Christian leaders have talked about? Actually, I think it’s counterintuitive to “common-sense Christianity,” which ends up looking like other works-based religions. What are you doing standing under that waterfall? Get out here and start hacking at this stone-hard ground.
Of course the stone-hard ground needs to be softened. But God has said that He is doing this work. If we, through faith in Jesus Christ alone, receive the waterfall from the Waterfall Rock of our Savior, it will flow out. Great things will happen. As someone has said, “God can do more in five minutes that we can do in five years.”
Through faith, drink long and deep of the absolutely amazing grace of Jesus Christ. Watch what it does in your life. Get ready for some dams to burst.
Because He’s the One giving the grace.
[…] Romans 5 tells us that through faith in Jesus Christ, we stand in grace, the divine inflow-outflow of God. […]
I love it!!! I am researching the old doctrine of mercy vs. grace and ran across this. I will have to share with others as it makes me cringe when people throw the word grace around so much! Thanks for a brilliant, non-threatening writing! 😉
This was brilliant! I cringe when I hear the word grace being thrown around. I think many pastors need to read this. 😉
Thanks so much for the encouragement, Shelly. God bless you.
Thank you for stating this so clearly and confirming my life-long belief that Grace is a capital G word. And I agree with Shelly. I flinch when I hear someone say, “give them grace.” I want to say, only God can do that!!
The last time I heard someone say, “But we have to give them grace,” I pressed to find out what she meant. She actually meant we have to give them what people used to call the benefit of the doubt.
BUT I’ll also add that as I’ve been studying Ephesians in the past several months, I’ve realized that there is at least one time in the NT (which I missed somehow when I was studying the term) when we’re told that we “give grace.” It’s Ephesians 4:29, which I’ve roughly paraphrased this way: “Rotten communication must not be ejected from your mouth, but instead any good, toward the needful use of building up, in order to bestow grace to the hearers.” When we give grace, it’s a very active thing, through our good words, which will build up the hearers in Christ. It’s the divine inflow-outflow of God–flowing out. If the word were used this way today, that would be a Biblical use. But that’s not the way I’m hearing the word used.
Definition for Ephesians 4:29 Grace – Kindness; favor.
Sometimes when I hear “give them grace” I think the speaker is saying “cut them some slack” aka be kind. One of the places that I have heard “give them grace” was in Celebrate Recovery. The intention was to recognize that we are all sinners and have shortcomings and to remember that each person has to “recover” at their own pace. Although, I am in agreement with the intent, it’s almost as if they were saying “give them space” to grow in God. So, I try to give the speaker “space” and know that their intention was good, although their choice of words would not have been mine. I still reserve the word Grace for God. 🙂 Thanks for your reply.
If we take a look at the Greek text the word δῷ means “it will give, cause, or produce.” δῷ is an aorist verb from the word δίδωμι which means “to give.” I said all that to say this. The author is implying that the words we speak can cause, produce, or even allow Grace to be given. The speaker is not giving grace, but is causing Grace to be given from God. You are still correct in your assessment Rebecca. Nowhere is it mentioned in the NT that we can give Grace. Only God can give true Grace.
Thank you Garnett! I always appreciate it when someone who really knows Greek comments, since I do all my work just with a lexicon!
And only God can forgive yet we have no qualms about talking about “forgiving others.”
Yes, we do and can “give others grace” because we can give them unmerited favor–our ability and capacity to do this comes from the Source of all things, God Almighty. Right?
Not sure how you’re using the term “favor,” though. My understanding was that the “favor” God gives is in His gifts of the Spirit, which we can’t bestow.
It’s amazing how many people mistaken grace for mercy. Grace is a GIFT from Jesus Christ. No one is authorized to give that gift except the one who died for it.
Besides that, grace teaches us not to sin any more, it’s not forgiveness or a license to sin …. Tit 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Tools specific to 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
ALSO….. The Beatitudes don’t read: Blessed are the graceful: for they shall obtain grace.
Rather it says: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Matthew 5:7 KJV) People mistaken the fact we are saved by GRACE THRU FAITH, not GRACE alone. These are the same individuals that say the law was abolished and done away with.
Mat 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Mat 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
I say if you are giving grace to someone then you are giving them nothing at all. This is a common mistaken teaching of the love of Christ. Mercy and forgiveness for one another is love.
READ Rom 12:9-21 (says it all) I believe this is what people are mistakenly calling grace.
I think that God would would want humans to try and give grace to others if they could. I’m wondering why we would even really know about it if he didn’t want us to know about it? And I think he knows that there are people inclined to the more caring side and that they would fight with this concept in relation to themselves every day. And I do believe it is very hard, if not impossible. for someone to know when to give grace, since it’s a trial of human error and most people will never reach the point of understanding why someone would give grace to someone. It harms the giver to give it at the wrong time. And it may help enlighten the person who receives it, the potential for good outweighs the bad of trying. They could just ignore it, which would be better than the person who is receiving it feeling like they’re getting away with something or thinking it’s okay to take advantage because people will let them. Then I believe eventually they will learn a lesson, maybe not by humans. Showing grace to one person can help so much. If someone was in that one moment where they needed someone and couldn’t go on, and you were able to help that would be amazing. Or if you’re showing grace to someone and they don’t get it, maybe someone around will and they will realize the power of grace. Honestly, I think the person giving out the grace has a lot more work to do than those receiving. People can get hurt, and if it’s your natural inclination to show grace when it’s undiserved, and it’s not to a stranger and they just think that they don’t have to change or grow, that this person is saying it’s okay essentially, which stunts their growth (at the time) and hurts the person giving grace. They feel unappreciated and unloved and that their favors are just taken lightly. The person who actually wants to help and give out grace, has to more developed in their hearts and emotions and trust their senses. They have to have their inner strength on high when dealing with people, especially if they are around them a lot. Even then, people might say they are weak for caring. So they also have to know that they are more emotionally evolved and that other people simply just do not understand. And even though they want to help, they can’t help everyone. They are lucky to survive their personal journey without turning into someone without emotions or a soul (which can easily happen if you get hurt by people too many times. If anyone on here feels like they’re an empath or just a bit more sensitive or caring, look up narcissist sociopaths…they are one of the biggest threats to people like us). So people trying to give grace do have to know it’s not something humans are meant to do fully and if you’re goal in life is to help others, I would say be kind to yourself and give yourself grace. And set your boundaries. You cannot be an effective healer if you are getting stepped on and hurt all the time. In order to fulfill your life’s mission, you have to do the opposite of what you want to do and heal yourself and remind yourself that you have to be strong and command respect. And that’s where I find my struggle being. I like that I realize i’m meant to be a healer and a giver, but I also don’t like to feel like I’m seen as a weaker person for that and I know in order to move to the next phase I have to keep reminding myself to set boundaries and command respect from every single person, which is much harder to see results for the people who’ve known you for longer. My feeling is that it will never be fully okay and navigating life as a person doing something God can only really do, but I will be happy with myself knowing I tried.
This is just what I needed to read. I am in the field of education. I can’t count the number of times I have heard an administrator or education leader in my state use the phrase, “We need to give each other Grace.” I so agree with you, only God gives us grace. At first, it angered me when I heard people say this phrase. Then I thought, I’m going to google, “Can a person give another person grace?” What do you think my search revealed? God, God, God, referenced everywhere grace was mentioned. Then I smiled, God has a great sense of humor. Government and faith separate, haha!