Sunday, April 7, 2013

Anyone who’s grown up in church has heard the catch-phrase:

Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

Getting what we don’t deserve.

Heaven. Favor with God. A hope not just for this life, but for the life to come.

But again, those are things we’ve heard before. What does it actually mean?

The Greek word for grace, charis, is related to the word for joy, chara. In fact, charis sometimes gets translated as joy, rather than grace.

Is it possible, then, that when we talk about God’s grace, we could just as easily say delight or joy?

Our God delights in us, His creation and His children. Our God showers us with joy.

And when the night is darkest, or the long-awaited answer to a prayer lingers still longer, could it be that “My grace is sufficient for you” really means, “My joy in you, the delight I take in this journey you’re on, will be enough to carry you even when it seems there is no answer for the hardship in your life”?

I personally am amazed that anything about me, or my life, could bring God joy or delight. Yet His word says,

The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17, NKJV)

This—from the One who made me. The One who loved me so much He provided the perfect sacrifice for my sins, from His own blood. Who welcomes me as His, regardless of the family I was born into or the mess I perpetuated as part of that. Regardless of the mess I continue to make of my life, when I carry on as if I don’t really need Him.

So, it might seem just another churchy buzzword, but there is no other word for it. ­Grace. The reason we have strength to keep going each day. The basis for any forgiveness we offer others. The sure knowledge that when we’ve exhausted our purpose and journey here, what awaits us is so far beyond what we can imagine. We don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. Our flaws and failures can’t diminish it, because it existed before any of us, with full knowledge of what we would be and do.

All we can do, then, is surrender and glory in it.

                        12 Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
                        14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
                        15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
                        17 So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33)

...through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2, all NKJV)


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