With her long dress flowing behind her like a quiet, country stream, she seemed to float toward the altar. Head held high, she carried herself with such grace!
The word Grace can be used to mean elegance, smooth, fluid motion, or beauty. It can mean a pleasing or attractive quality. We say that someone is graceful when they are “light on their feet”, as with dancers. Or when they move smoothly in an aesthetic manner, we say that figure skaters or gymnasts are graceful. I wasn’t very graceful last night when I knocked a pair of crystal candlestick holders off of the table!
When something enhances the beauty or honor of something it is said to have graced that something. At his recent passing, it became clear that the world is a better place since Billy Graham graced us with his ministry.
Grace can mean favor or popularity. Things went well for David when he was in King Saul’s good graces. We have seen a number of pop culture icons lose their popularity and fall from grace. This type of grace is usually earned.
But the only grace that is important to me is charis. It means the unmerited favor of God. I believe that all too often we find ourselves making promises to God, trying to earn His favor in the same manner we go about trying to earn favor with others.
God’s grace doesn’t work that way!
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (ESV). When will we finally get it through our thick skulls that if it could be earned it wouldn’t be charis? It is ONLY through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus that we can obtain this grace.
I’m reminded of Paul and his “thorn in the flesh”. We don’t know for certain what this “thorn” was, but I think it safe to say that it was an affliction of some kind. Scripture tells us that he asked God three times to take it away, but God responded, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV). I used to look at this scripture and think that God meant He had given Paul the grace or strength to deal with this thorn, and that may also be the case. But, as a sufferer of chronic pain, I see this as God telling us that, in light of the fact that we have his unconditional, unearned favor; our eternal salvation; His undying love; we have need of nothing else.
There are certainly things Paul desired, much as I do, and much as you do. But where the rubber meets the road there is only one thing we need.
Blessings on your weekend!