Getting grace and faith right

Getting grace and faith right

Christians love to use the words ‘grace’ and ‘faith’. You would be hard pressed to listen to a Christian sermon or sing a Christian song without mention of one of these words. But what do they mean? Can you come up with a short and simple definition of each one? Sometimes we assume we know what words mean but cannot explain them well; these are words we need to be crisp and clear about.

Grace is getting something good that we don’t deserve. When it comes to God, this word is especially applied to what God has done for us in Jesus. If we trust in Jesus, we do not only have our sins forgiven (though that is terrific!), we also get incredible blessings we don’t deserve. We get adopted into God’s family, we get God’s favour not his anger, and we get a certain hope, only to name a few.

Faith is the companion word to grace. Having faith in something or someone is simply to trust them. It is a relational word. So, when we say that we have faith in Jesus, we are saying that we trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and He has done what He says He has done. Faith is our response to God’s grace. God gives us what we don’t deserve, and we receive it by faith.

One way we can distort these ideas of grace and faith is to overemphasise our faith. We are weak people with weak faith. Yet Jesus said that we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to have incredible things happen. The emphasis is never on our faith, it is on God’s grace.

Let me explain. If you are sitting on a chair right now, you recently showed faith even though you didn’t think about it. You showed faith that the chair was safe to sit on, so you sat on it. If you are still sitting on it and the chair has not broken, it seems that your faith was justified! Yet, even in this example, the emphasis cannot be on your faith, but on the chair itself. You could believe with all your heart that the chair would hold you, yet if it was incapable of doing this, you would still fall onto the floor. What is holding you up? It is the chair, not your faith in it. Your faith needs to be placed in something or Someone trustworthy.

If you are a Christian, you are trusting in the One who is truly trustworthy. Jesus is the only One who really is. He really did pay for your sins. There are many people in this world who have faith in something, probably stronger faith than you do, yet they are trusting in the wrong thing.

Don’t overemphasise your faith. Sure, you need to have faith to be saved. It matters. Yet the emphasis should always be on God and his grace rather than on ourselves. If we have faith, that is a gift from God, and not because we are deserving. Let’s focus on God and his gift of Jesus; the spotlight should be on Jesus and not on us.