I never quite understood what grace was growing up. I’d heard of amazing grace and saying “grace” before eating, but the meaning had never been driven home. From what I’d known, God was floating gracefully around the sanctuary handing out blessings. Grace has only been defined to me as it related to cats and ballerinas.
Once I started seeing what grace was, I realized God loved me regardless of my human ability to comply. This made me free and gave me the desire to want to comply. As I grow deeper in God’s grace, I feel I am only scratching the surface.
I tend to wonder why grace was never driven home in any significant way to me. Was I just not paying attention? Did those teaching about grace not really understand what it is also? Were they afraid of it being abused?
I then saw how the apostle Paul presented grace (Galatians 2:21, Romans 6:1-2&11:6). I began to see what grace was–freedom from sin, not freedom to sin. This isn’t because we did something or have to do something to earn/fully substantiate it (other than just accept it), but it is by Jesus’ completed work at the cross. When we come into contact with that grace, we desire to do God’s planned works for us and even find joy in it. This is not to be confused with works that are driven by man’s prerogatives, even if they may seem reasonable on the surface. In addition, we gain the desire to want to be changed to his new creation.
It would seem that I was presented a skewed standard. If I worked more within the congregation and was a good citizen, I earned grace. Likewise, this same grace covered our “grey area” sins. After all, things like gluttony, gossip, and condemnation were all covered by grace as long as we weren’t committing the “immoral” sins like adultery. Even murder was justified as long as we agreed with each other that the person was someone “bad” who deserved it. It would seem that these things are what actually abuse grace.
What we never seemed to realize then is that we are all bad and all deserving of death. That’s what makes grace what it is. It is exactly what we don’t deserve and cannot earn. I still see many act as though it is their entitlement because they act “better” than others. However, we have all sinned and we have all been offered grace for any and every sin (Romans 3:23&24).