“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” ~ Ephesians 2:8
Webster’s Dictionary uses the words approval, favor, mercy, and pardon to define grace. Charles Swindoll defines grace as, “unmerited favor—extending special favor to someone who doesn’t deserve it, who hasn’t earned it, and who can never repay it.” As a Christian the concept of grace is pivotal in our understanding of who Christ is. It is by grace we have been saved. Going to church every Sunday, doing the right thing, giving money to the poor, feeding the hungry, going on mission trips to serve those in need are all great things, but are not reasons why we are saved. It is only by His grace that we are saved.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” – John 8: 3-11
Most of you may be familiar with the story of the woman who was caught in adultery. There is no doubt that this woman felt ashamed, betrayed, humiliated, hurt, terrified, etc. She was not only caught in a sinful act, but she was thrown into a crowd of angry people seeking justice. Much to her surprise, Jesus Christ chose not to condemn her, but instead extended grace to her in her time of need. Christ did not ignore her sin or excuse it, but He addressed it through grace. His act of grace opened her heart to hear His truth: sin no more. He looked past her sin and accepted her in spite of what she did. Unlike the Pharisees, who were quick to judge and punish, Jesus Christ showed favor on the woman. It was this act of kindness that probably convicted the heart of the woman, and caused her to sin no more.
In many ways, I find myself relating to the Pharisees in the passage above in that I know the truth and want to share it with others, but I have a difficult time showing grace. I heard a message last week that spoke on John 1:14, “..We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John uses grace and truth to describe Jesus Christ. The order of John’s description really convicted me. We are quick to speak truth into people, but slow to show grace. Jesus Christ showed grace first, and then used that to speak truth into the lives of the sinner. His grace opened the door for the sinner to hear His words of truth. In the instance above, grace brought conviction to the woman’s heart much more quickly than judgment.
Jesus Christ was compassionate and cared for those around Him. He showed us that grace does not pick sides and does not look for people that deserve love. Rather, it is the act of God giving His life for us, while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Grace is us receiving life, when what we deserve is eternal damnation. Jesus Christ was full of grace. If we are seeking to reach out to a hurting world, we too must be full of grace. We must emulate Christ, by first showing grace and then speaking truth into the lives of those around us.