What Is Grace, Exactly?

four 0'clockThe first definition of grace provided over at Merriam-Webster Online is actually a pretty good one:

grace: 1 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

However, notice that this first definition has three subentries (a, b, and c) and that there are seven alternate definitions for the word grace. There are also ten additional entries in a scroll box on the grace page.

With all of those definitions rattling around, it’s no wonder grace is hard to define. I grew up in a church that has a lot to say about grace. I’ve often thought it strange that, even though the idea of God’s grace is central to my church’s teaching, it has taken me a long time to be able to talk about it coherently.

As I’ve said on the about page, I started this blog as a way to share stories from my life and to invite you to join me in finding instances of grace. Sometimes I get distracted by other things (that video camera, for example) but I intend to stay focused on the main subject. Over time, I hope the stories and your responses to them will provide a definition of grace that blows our minds, a definition that we can point to and say, “Grace, I has it.”

I watched two people argue about the definition of grace last weekend during my camping trip. What a rare thing, to hear a passionate conversation about grace outside of a Sunday school class or a Bible study. (Now in the interest of full disclosure, the people discussing grace where my mother and her friend, Marian, frequent visitors to this blog.)

I’m not going to attempt to answer the question, “What Is Grace, Exactly?” We will reveal that answer together as the blog grows. However, like the conversation at the campground, I wonder if we could start a conversation here. How do you define grace?

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8 thoughts on “What Is Grace, Exactly?

  1. Several years ago, i began to journal on a regular basis to the question “where is the grace?” in an attempt to be attentive to the glimpses of grace that might come my way.
    Grace can appear in the midst of the mundane, reassure during a season of trials, or even find a way to show itself when you are immersed in trauma.
    Even so, I am not sure how to define this mystery that delivers something of the presence of God. Yet I know it when it comes, as it did a moment ago when Wycliffe (gray tabby) stroked my arm gently and reminded me of the wonder of furry things.


  2. Grace is a gift that defies definition. It is part of the mystery of faith. If we could define it or “capture” it in a photo, it wouldn’t be grace. I often think of grace as the touch of the wind on an otherwise still day . . . but still, even that image is limiting. When I am at my spiritual best (rarely!) I accept grace as the blessing that enfolds me as no other can. And then I give thanks to God, the Giver of all that is good, including grace. Thanks be to God.


  3. I’m still trying to figure out what grace is; I agree with Sissy that it defies definition. I define grace through the experiences I have with people and with nature. Grace to me is when my spouse overlooks some hateful thing I’ve said and loves me anyway, when my friends respond graciously with kind comments even though I’ve been either totally goofy or outright insulting, when my kitty cat nestles next to me while I’m suffering through a migraine, when my daughter hugs me sometime after I’ve yelled at her and says, “Mom, I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to say such a nasty thing”; when the folks I work with say kind things about books I’ve worked on, even when I’ve been late turning the book in and probably drove Production to distraction (or desperation); when someone laughs at one of my corny jokes. And oh yes, of course, grace is knowing that God loves me no matter what. Grace is a new morning and a brand-new, clean slate for each new day.


  4. Grace does not come from man. Grace is given to man.
    Grace is a word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
    It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
    Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25: 23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. This principle is expressed in Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches (John 15: 1-11). See also John 1: 12-17; Eph. 2: 8-9; Philip. 4: 13; D&C 93: 11-14.


    • LadyVol1,

      Great post! It reminded me of a the words of a great teacher, James Logan. I can hear him saying, “Grace is a person; grace is Jesus Christ.”

      Certainly Jesus, his life, his teachings, his death, his resurrection, most clearly define grace.

      I wonder if Christians have a corner on the market of grace though?


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