When Christians speak of God’s grace, we often mean His unmerited favour. And, indeed, God’s grace embodies His unmerited favour to us and on us.
But there is another aspect of His grace that is essential to our Christian lives. It has to do with His ability. This is the aspect of grace that supernaturally empowers us to do, or go through, things we would otherwise be unable to do, or go through. For example, David was able to rule Israel successfully because God’s grace empowered him. Some Christians are able to handle vast responsibilities and accomplish great things for God because God’s grace empowers them. Many — like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — endure difficulties and trials through God’s grace.
God’s grace, in addition to granting us favour, emboldens, strengthens, and sustains us when we walk the difficult paths that typically precede fruitfulness in our Christian lives.
God’s grace also enables us to live righteously — and this is an important benefit. God’s standards are high in every facet of life, and we often fail to meet them because we strive toward them in our own strength. But we can never succeed at living Christlike lives by striving in our strength. This fact was at the root of Israel’s failure to keep God’s commandments under the old covenant. The people sought to fulfill God’s laws through their own will and effort, but they failed. From their failures, we learn a glaring truth about the fallen human nature: this nature can never please God because it always tends toward wickedness and unrighteousness (Jeremiah 17:9, Romans 8:7).
As a result of their failures, God promised to write His laws on our hearts and minds so that under the new covenant in Christ, we would have an inward desire to please Him (Jeremiah 31:31-34). This innate desire to please God comes from Him, not ourselves (Philippians 2:13). Therefore, we must pursue righteous living by seeking Him humbly, confessing our weaknesses to Him, and giving up those weaknesses in exchange for the divine power to do what is right. When we sincerely acknowledge our weaknesses and sins before God, when we humbly say, “Lord, I cannot do this on my own; please help me. I cannot stop being anxious, thinking impure thoughts, being unloving, being unforgiving and so on,” we receive a fresh desire and ability to make right choices in whatever situations we face.
The responsibility for choosing to shun evil and do what is right is always ours; however, when we ask for His grace, God gives us His strength and ability, which makes choosing what is right easier.
Seeking God’s grace in this way is not something we do once and never need again; rather, it is an attitude we should practice at all times. This is, in part, what it means to place our confidence in God and not in our flesh; it is what Jesus meant by “being poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). James 4:6,10 tells us that God will give us much grace if we embrace this humble attitude. It is through such grace that we develop the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Embracing God’s grace makes a real and tangible difference to life. It makes our Christian walk easier, more enjoyable, and more fruitful. I pray that you will be inspired to seek and embrace every aspect of His grace so that your life will be strengthened and transformed.