How to grace?
I’m addicted to my morning time of personal devotion in which I read Biblical passages, pray and meditate. It helps me enter into my day renewed. I felt God speaking to me in scripture this morning, specifically via a very well known verse, that was being emphasized in a new way.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
I would normally place the emphasis on the first part of this verse, “the Word was made flesh”, when reading or hearing this scripture. But this morning my attention was definitely drawn to the second part of this verse, “we beheld his glory…full of grace and truth”. His glory—full of grace and truth, this stood out to me, as if in repetition.
John 1:17 then appears to further emphasis or repeat this theme:
For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
And I thought, how much, how deeply, have I looked in the face of that glory, that ‘grace and truth? I know the more I look at Jesus, whether that looking be in the form of my spiritual gaze while in thought and acknowledgement of his presence or whether it be ‘beholding’ in times of prayer and communion, the more I am drawn into Him and He into me.
This leads me to pray the following: Thank you that you are so full of grace and truth, help me to be fuller of such grace and truth.
But how am I to practically do this, to put ‘skin’ to this truth, this reality? Well, the truth part is easy enough; to be full of truth would first of all mean such things as being true to myself and then making sure that I am being truthful with others. As Shakespeare says, “If thou canst be true to self, that canst not be false to any man.”
But how practically, can I be full of grace? Grace is a much more of an ethereal term to me than truth because truth is something already adopted into societal and interpersonal relationships as well as into one’s character; examples much more abound, but not so ‘grace’. Grace is more lumped into a religious only concept, category, and connotation, so that it’s much harder to define and recognize: How to ‘grace’?
That’s the need and prayer: How to ‘grace’?
And so I first of all turn to my online dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines grace as:
a. unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification. b: a virtue coming from God. c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace.
The free dictionary defines it in these numbers of ways: 1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion. 2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement. 3. A sense of fitness or propriety.
Wikipedia defines divine grace thus:
Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin.
Common Christian teaching is that grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his son to die on a cross, thus delivering eternal salvation.
In the New Testament, the word translated as grace is the Greek word charis (Greek), pronounced khar’-ece, for which Strong’s Concordance gives this definition; “Grace, the state of kindness and favor towards someone, often with a focus on a benefit given to the object.” In the Old Testament, the Hebrew term used is chen (חֵן), which is defined in Strong’s as “favor, grace or charm; grace is the moral quality of kindness, displaying a favorable disposition”
Within Christianity, there are differing concepts of grace. In particular, Catholics and Protestants use the word in substantially different ways. It has been described as “the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism … modern liberalism from conservatism, etc.”
Hinduism and Islam also have their concepts and definitions of grace.
As you can see, just seeking for a definition of grace provides a good illustration of the illusiveness that I’m referring to. How can I concretely put into effect, into force, a concept that is so ethereal, so illusive, and who’s precise meaning is subject to debate?
When I asked my wife and daughter they chimed in, ‘it’s trusting the Lord and having faith for situations, whether good or bad.’ I felt their opinion held a lot of merit but still I didn’t think it expressed the whole of the matter.
Well, I need to go to the answer man. How do I do it Jesus?
The Old Testament abounds with both pleas and thankfulness for both God’s grace bestowed and for the favor and grace of others. The New Testament has multiple references to this state of grace:
1 Peter 5:5 you have to be humble to receive it; Heb 4:16 we are to pray for it; Heb 12:15 we can fail of it; Eph 2:8 we are saved by it; Eph 4:7 we are all given a measure of it; Ro 5:2 we have access by faith to it; Ps 84:11 He won’t withhold it; Prov1:9 & 3:22 the word gives/imparts it; etc.
I would say that grace is akin to faith, eternal life and salvation: All are rather hard to define. I would chime in: Grace is the effectual working of the spirit of Christ in a person. It’s the awareness of that working; it’s the yielding to that working, it’s the honoring of that working. I was going to say, it’s the ‘allowing’ of that working, but then when I think of the divine-human relationship, you can’t really saying ‘allow’. For instance, you don’t allow a king to rule, you honor him through your obedient submission to his authority. And in such a state the essence we call grace is manifest in some way. Either you see or sense it for yourself and are benefited or others see it or sense it and are benefited by it, or a combination of both.
Well, all of this is helping to put a few things straight on the shelves of heart and mind but still I’m rather at a loss as to ‘how to’ practically. But I was thinking that just this very incident and my writing about it are equally a work of grace. I certainly never intended to write any of this. Perhaps it’s meant to be an ongoing lesson for me that will deepen and get clearer as I proceed.
Maybe as the Word is made flesh, maybe as It becomes more manifest in my flesh, in my life, maybe as I seek personally to behold the glory as of the only begotten of the father, full of grace and truth, maybe that very grace and truth simply becomes more manifest in my life, as if this one verse is like a cosmic equation:
Word manifest in (my) flesh + Beholding = grace and truth.
What do you think? If you have any thoughts to add to this, I’d love to hear from you.
How to grace?
From In 52 Bible studies series
© Copyright 2013 John Hislop