Some people are just, simply … attractive! (What is Grace?)

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“You think I’m gorgeous, you want to kiss me, you want to hug me… and you want to marry me” , Gracie Hart, Miss Congeniality 2000

Some people are just, simply … attractive: Admit it, there are people who are good looking, or have sparkling personalities and we just like to look at them and hang around those people. These are the type of people who were the teacher’s pets. They were first to get party invites and dates to formals!

Did you know that the word ‘grace’ originates from the idea of beauty and attractiveness? A person can even look ‘graceful’: meaning they are good looking in an unassuming and attractive way. The word also implies that when someone is exhibiting ‘grace’: they are demonstrating a benevolence to others, who may not be able to return the good deed. Music even has ‘grace notes’– pretty little accents placed in music scores that may not have much to do with the melody, except that they sound really good. Grace notes, by definition, cannot have any value in adding up the beats in a bar.

The ‘Charites’Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 11.31.44 pm: The ancient Greek world had a goddess of grace: ‘Charis’. She had two friends who together were called The ‘Charites’, who, how can we put it nicely; didn’t do much at all, except dance around, laugh and look pretty.

New Testament Grace: This is pretty much the context, in which the New Testament word ‘grace’, was introduced to Christianity.   The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states it well:  ‘the word has abundant use in secular Greek in the sense of unmerited favor, and Paul seized on this meaning of the word to express a fundamental characteristic of Christianity …’

Why go to the trouble of explaining the word ‘grace’?

Grace is such a foundational concept that understanding it is virtually essential for victorious Christian life and sound doctrine. Sometimes people like to have their own special ‘revelation’ about what a word means. Sometimes we can all get a little loose and lazy. This can lead to misunderstandings and miss-rendering of scriptures.

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace:’ Hebrews 13:9

‘(the Gospel) is constantly bearing fruit … in you since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth’. Colossians 1:6

In the New Testament, grace refers to: i. the favourable disposition of God to man, apart from any merit on man’s behalf and,. ii. the spiritual and physical blessings that are freely bestowed to Christians, purely on the basis of God’s favourable disposition to us.

A neat summation of New Testament grace would be: ‘The unmerited and freely bestowed virtue and affection of God toward mankind, as expressed in Christian salvation, life and ministry.’

It’s not hard to see how the New Testament word for grace grew out of the common word. Isn’t it good to know that God finds us so attractive, that all the goodness, gifts and blessings of God are known as ‘graces’: freely bestowed on us out of His grace.  We can’t earn his favour, his gifts and power towards us: they are all freely given. To paraphrase Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality: “I think he loves us.”

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