"Grace": how often do we read of it in Scripture, and how often do we hear it on the lips of gospel preachers. Repetition can be used as a means of emphasis, but when used liberally it may lose its effect, have little impact, and be taken for granted with little thought given to the significance of what lies behind it.
Grace is found, for instance, in the introduction and closing greetings of all Pauls epistles. Its first mention in Scripture is with reference to Noah where it is stated that "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen 6.8). The last use is in the closing verse of the Bible, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (Rev 22.21). Behind the Old Testament word and that used in the New Testament there is the same background. Both indicate the favour of God that is unmerited, that gives joy to God as He gives and to the sinner who receives. Since it is used so often, "grace" is, therefore, a significant truth in Scripture which could not possibly be fully expounded in this short page.
Note, however, some encouraging points from its use. First we read in Ephesians that "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (2.8). Grace is the basis of the salvation that we enjoy. There is nothing in us whatsoever that merits our salvation. We are the undeserving recipients of salvation as a gift of God. There must never pass through our minds the thought that we are "better" than those who do not possess that gift; that perhaps we were "not so bad" as others. Rather we must acknowledge that the divine verdict, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one" (Ps 14.3; 53.3; Rom 3.12), applies equally to all.
Paul speaks of his work for the Lord and declares, "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation" (1 Cor 3.10). Grace is the basis of the service for which we are fitted. The spiritual gifts given to us, through which we are responsible to serve the Lord, are not given because we have earned them by our devotion or unique separation to Him. Like salvation they are totally undeserved. Never should we consider ourselves to be better fitted to serve than others, nor that the gifts given to us elevate us above others. Remember that the other servant is also gifted of God.
But there is encouragement also. Again from the pen of Paul we read, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12.9). Grace is the basis of the strength for our suffering. Paul suffered from what he called his "thorn in the flesh". Once again this strength is not given because we have earned it, but because it is His joy to give it. Those who are passing through times of suffering can be encouraged because His grace is sufficient for the circumstances. It does not need to be augmented. Alone it is enough.
Peter knew much of the grace of God, but as he closed his first epistle he wrote of "the God of all grace" (1 Pet 5.10). All that grace can give He gives. There can be nothing lacking. He never falls short. With these words he tells us of the sufficiency that we enjoy. There is nothing that we require that He cannot supply. None of this is given grudgingly, but rather liberally. Just as the good Samaritan poured in oil and wine without holding back, so the Lord gives all that He bestows on the basis of grace alone.
Let us joy, therefore, in His grace and lift up our hearts to enjoy His bounty.
However, there is one word of warning. The possibility is that we could have received the grace of God in vain (2 Cor 6.1). This does not mean that salvation is lost. But, sad to think, it is possible to treat lightly the blessings that He bestows, to fail to develop the gifts that He has given, and not to recognise the many ways through which He sustains and strengthens. May we heed the call of Peter to "grow in grace" by exhibiting that same spiritual generosity to others, never holding back but giving our all for Him and for others.