Merriam Webster gives no less than 17 definitions and sub-definitions for the noun “Grace,” but for the Christian one simple 2-word definition will suffice: “unmerited favour.” God’s grace toward us is demonstrated in this, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8). And because of this grace to us, we ought extend grace to others.
“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (Heb. 12:15, KJV)
As Christ is gracious in bringing salvation to we who do not deserve it through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, so we ought to be gracious in kindnesses toward others who by their behaviour and attitudes do not merit it. We must be diligent in this, not allowing a fleshly bitterness toward them to creep up and take root in us, but remembering that they too are lost souls for whom Christ died – and that now we are the only arms of His grace upon this earth through whom He can yet reach out to them.
Not only for their sake do we guard ourselves, but also for our own, for bitterness can defile our own hearts too. As Solomon warned by the superior wisdom God gave him, “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.” (Prov. 4:23, NKJV).
God has every right to be bitter against us. He created us, gave us paradise, and forbad us only one thing. But we spat in His face, defied Him and did that one thing. He ousted us, for He had no choice. God is light and cannot mix with darkness. Light is what it is, and by its nature must disperse all darkness; God’s very Presence expelled us.
But God is also Gracious. Though banishing us He must, still He makes a way for us. He sends Christ among us, within those who will give Him entry, and He illuminates us. He makes us light again, that immediately we may rejoin our Maker… He gives us also promise of a new Paradise… an eternal communion.
In the prologue of his gospel John writes, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given” (John 1:16, NIV), ”grace for grace” as the KJV has it. To the humble of heart* God gushes grace, fills us…. overflows us. From that overflow we are to extend His grace to others. To refuse, carries a fearful consequence. The author of Hebrews continues…
“Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12:28-29).
* see James 4:6.