In one of my more recent posts, I wrote about the difficulty of repentance, and the empowering work of grace.
It is only through God’s grace that we can repent. Grace isn’t the overlooking of faults. Grace isn’t expressing appreciation of someone undeserving. Grace is the power to do what we could not do in and of ourselves. (Hard times come again more and more)
The common definition of grace as “unmerited favor” is perhaps a little misleading, at least the way we tend to understand favor. My tendency, at least, is to think of “favor” as simply to “look at someone” with a “favorable attitude,” or to ultimately reward someone despite the fact that they don’t deserve it. While this definition captures the “unmerited” nature of God’s grace, I don’t think it sufficiently captures the fact that grace doesn’t just mean an “award,” but it delivers an “ability.”
Matthew Henry states this dual aspect of grace better than I could have, in his commentary on Romans 7.
“We are under grace, which promises strength to do what it commands, and pardon upon repentance when we do amiss.”
I see a lot of focus on the forgiving nature of grace, but not much mention of the fact that grace is not just a status; it is the ability to accomplish what God intends for us.