Forward in it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
The more we read the Bible, the more we encounter certain words, hope, faith, peace, love, and light. During Advent, we probe into some of these words and their meanings as we light a new candle each week. For example, our service this week focuses on faith. However, one word sometimes neglected is grace. What do we mean by grace? Another word misunderstood is works. Are works necessary? What role do they play in our salvation?
Each day we are surrounded by God's divine grace. His favor exists within us before we are even aware -- even as we are in our mother's wombs. Our recognition of this grace begins with a yearning to find answers. We acknowledge a void in our souls and respond to that grace in faith, placing our confidence in something we neither can see nor fully understand. Yet, even this call to trust is a working of God's grace within us. In God's grace, we are redeemed, forgiven of our sin, and restored to him. As we continue to mature as Christians, we grow both in our faith and our understanding of the fulness of God's grace.
Grace is free, a divine expression of God's love and compassion for us. We can do nothing to earn it, nor do we deserve it. While no amount of works can acquire what is given so abundantly and freely, works are one way of responding to God's grace. In caring for our neighbors, we demonstrate in a small way the love God shows to us.
God of grace, we thank you for your continual love and compassion. Please help us to be aware of this gift and, in our actions, share it with others. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.