Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines grace as “good-will, loving-kindness, favor,” adding that it “contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved.” Some have contrasted grace and mercy by saying, “Grace is getting what you don’t deserve, while mercy is not getting what you do deserve.” As sinners, we all deserve eternal death; because of God’s grace, He offers us the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
How was the grace of Christ brought to man? Read 1 Peter 1:13-15. Because of that grace, which was brought to mankind at the revelation of Christ, how should His creation act? Look at verse 15 again. We should act like God, we should be holy just as He is holy! How do we learn to be holy? Read Titus 2:11-14. Grace does two things according to this passage: (1) it brings salvation, and (2) it teaches us how to live for the Almighty.
Once a person obeys the gospel, can he then fall from grace? There are denominations that teach it is impossible to fall away: “once you are saved you are always saved.” This is an old Cavlinist false doctrine that can easily be refuted. Read Galatians 1:6-7. What had these Christians done? Read Galatians 5:4. What were Paul’s readers trying to do? And what was the result of their efforts? Clearly, according to the inspired Word of God, it is possible for a child of God to fall from grace. Do not be deceived by the false doctrines of Calvinist denominations.
Paul speaks of the grace of Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9. He uses this specific example to teach the church at Corinth a lesson about sacrificial giving, which certainly fits the definition of grace that Thayer provided: “good-will, loving-kindness, favor, contains the idea of kindness which bestows upon one what he has not deserved.” We were, spiritually speaking, impoverished; Jesus, who was rich, made Himself poor, in order to make us rich. We didn’t deserve it, but because of His grace, we can receive it.
Likewise, physically speaking, just because someone has been afflicted, whether by persecution or natural disaster, that does not necessarily qualify him as “deserving” of monetary assistance. Yet, Paul taught the grace of giving clearly in 2 Corinthians 8:1-12. Christ gave; we should give. And, we should have a proper attitude as we give. Read 2 Corinthians 9:5-8. This is a grace that we are privileged to take part in every week as a part of our worship (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Author Joseph F. Grizone wrote, “The poor never have enough for themselves…but always have enough to give away.” Brother Warren Vaughn, an elder at the Lehman Avenue church of Christ in Bowling Green, recalled a time that he assisted in a charity drive in middle Tennessee. He said, “In a community of 800, we would go door-to-door on a pre-advertised day. Decades later it is still burned in my memory that the poor and ‘minority’ folks would come to the door with nickels and dimes that they had saved special for that day. Many of the financially well-to-do—guess what—didn’t answer the door.”
Just as the churches of Macedonia in the first century, in “their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality,” we should look to our own practices and see how we may be more liberal in the grace of giving today.
Many times, Paul closed his letters to the churches by imparting the grace of Christ to the readers (Romans 16:24; 1 Cor. 16:23; 2 Cor. 13:14; etc.). I particularly like how Peter ended his second epistle: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18).