Scriptural Gem for December 2014

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we read: But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
and in 1 Corinthians 15:10 we read: "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

I have become increasingly aware that many Christians have a very strange understanding of the word 'grace'. For some reason they seem to think of it as an abstract concept or as an 'attribute' of God and subsequently it is equated with God's mercy and His benevolence toward us. However, a careful reading of how the apostle Paul uses the word and some investigation into the original language reveals something completely different.

Let us look at the way Paul uses the word grace. From our readings above it is very clear that Paul understands the word 'grace' as God's powerful influence upon the human heart. This powerful influence effects change, empowers and strengthens. When God says to Paul 'My grace is sufficient for you', He does not mean 'My goodwill toward you is sufficient for you'. Not at all! God is saying: "My mighty power working in you is sufficient for you!"

Now, let us take a closer look at the original Greek word for 'grace' which is 'charis'. This word comes from the root word 'chairo' which means 'joy'. A literal translation of the word 'charis' (grace) in Greek would be: 'That which causes joy'. I meet many Christians who say "I know that I should be more joyful". What a strange statement! They know they ought to be joyful but they are not... and I have discovered the reason: these Christians have accepted an explanation of God's grace as a theoretical concept but have not received the actual genuine article in reality. Scripture is very clear (see 1 Peter 1:8) that receiving God's actual Grace (His powerful working in our hearts and lives) will inevitably lead to inexpressible joy. You will not have to 'work it up'.  We are filled with joy when we see the transformation wrought in us by God's powerful working in our hearts and lives. That is the reality of grace.

So, let us ask ourselves dear friends - have we received a theoretical explanation of God's grace or have we received the genuine article. If a theoretical explanation of grace is all we possess then we will forever be one of those who has to 'work up' the joy. That is not what God has in mind for us at all. He invites us to come this Christmas and ask Him for the gift of Himself and experience the all-surpassing power of his grace in reality! Amen.

Werner Schreiber