What is Grace?A question which has haunted me since I heard a dubious definition thus: AN UNMERITED FAVOUR. A ‘favour’ is too small a gift to be associated with the Christian idea of GRACE. The definition according to me is, as dubious like ‘EVIDENCE OF THINGS NOT SEEN’ for FAITH!
My endeavour is not to obfuscate the obvious, at the same time, when a definition does NOT appeal to one’s intellect, that definition has to be looked upon with suspicion and each person ought to struggle to capture the meaning within the ambit of the intellect. That’s human effort.
To understand Grace, I had to turn my attention to MERCY. Mercy, as we know from criminal jurisdiction, is the power granted above the judiciary. The judiciary convicts a person of a crime and sentences him. The sentence could be from payment of penalty to death.
Once the sentence is handed over and the conviction and sentence have reached finality, there is no scope but to serve out the sentence, or during the subsistence of the sentence, to get a remission for good behaviour etc..
Under the Mercy jurisdiction, the highest power granted by the society, the ultimate political body, may GRANT MERCY. Here Mercy, does not mean that the conviction had been set aside. The person surely IS GUILTY of the crime, but the sentence is waived- that is Mercy.
When it comes to the Christian concept, GRACE is, when any relief is granted, without getting into a question of fact as to whether the person did or didn’t; or, deserves or doesn’t; instead if the request is granted it is GRACE.
There is NO PRIOR JUDGEMENT TO GRACE. That’s why the Psalmist says : BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM GOD DOES NOT IMPUTE INIQUITY.
Who could have been better qualified to say that? None better than David – assuming that he wrote Psalm 32:
2. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
So when a person is NOT IMPUTED with iniquity, that’s GRACE. But to obtain that, is it a must that he shouldn’t have guile in his spirit? Or is it a consequence of God not imputing Sin? Well, Brother Paul, to whom Jesus was merciful has a take on it, at Romans 4, where he cites the belief of Abraham, as no ‘work’ and how that belief of Abraham obtained Grace. Bro. Paul repeats that portion of the said Psalm and argues that without going through physical circumcision, through belief alone, one could obtain the benefits of the belief in Christ.
For me, Grace is when God despite having the capability to know,and yet desists from knowing but GRANTS RELIEF FROM THE BURDEN/ GUILT OF SIN, WITHOUT LOOKING INTO OUR SINS, THAT’S GRACE!
Not only sins, God doesn’t look into the MERIT of a person to grant him his desire, therefore a person who doesn’t ‘deserve’ obtains his object of desire, that is GRACE too. Thirdly, HUMAN KNOWLEDGE may be absent, yet God may provide something which a person neither desired or imagined. For example, the person who was incapacitated and lying near the Siloam for 38 years thought that he has to be the first to get in at the stirring of the waters by the Angel. But Jesus, IGNORED HIS KNOWLEDGE and cured him, that was GRACE.
He is merciful to the sinner; honours the diligent lagger; and surprises the IGNORANT HUMAN, with his Benevolence. The last two are also incidences of God’s GRACE!
As most priests and preachers sweep mercy, forgiveness under the carpet of Grace, the word has lost its clarity.
Time to put in an effort to understand and not let the spiritual quacks exploit the word!