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    by Fred Price

Grace and Graciousness
Date Posted: April 23, 2021

People struggle with the concept of grace in all its manifestations. Spiritually speaking, the Christian understanding of God’s grace is that of divine favor – unmerited forbearance and mercy. But scripture also promotes the idea of gracefulness and graciousness where we mimic God and thereby attract unbelievers to our Savior. ( Colossians 4:6) Gracefulness often associated with humility, conveying a sense of modesty and meekness, putting the concerns of others before our own. (See Ephesians 4:29)

Jesus’ mother – Mary – is characterized in scripture as a prime example of grace-filled humility. Her background was considered suspect by many when, as a 13or 14year old peasant girl from an obscure village she claimed to have been approached by an angelic messenger who announced that she was to bear God’s Son, the long-awaited Messiah; through a supernatural conception.

But why Mary? The answer, in part, may be found in her “song” recorded in Luke 1:46-55. (Modeled after Hannah’s song recorded in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.) In it she displays the qualifications of humility, a self-giving nature and a heart for God. (See also Luke 1:26-38) Which shouldn’t be particularly surprising, as God consistently chose the humble, lowly and even unlikely to receive his favor; essentially making it a requirement of Christian ethics found in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12.

For instance, the elderly Abraham and Sarah were chosen to be the “parents” of God’s chosen people, the Jewish nation – who provided us with a Messiah. Joseph, the self-absorbed, younger son of a desert wanderer was chosen to save his family, Egypt and Israel from famine and desolation. Moses, a fugitive from the authorities and a stuttering shepherd, was chosen to deliver Israel from bondage as well as being their advocate/lawgiver before the Lord. David, the youngest and least considered son of a large family, was chosen to be Israel’s greatest king; the dynastic family from which the Messiah came. Jesus’ first disciples, his most intimate comrades were fishermen, a tax collector, a political zealot; one seemed to question and doubt continuously, while four others have barely a word said of them regarding their lives before or after meeting Jesus. (Not to mention Judas – Jesus’ betrayer.)

Mary undoubtedly exemplified for Jesus God’s preference for the humble and unassuming. (Possibly explaining the circumstances of his birth in that context.) Humility subsequently became a prominent theme throughout Jesus’ ministry as well as the New Testament as a whole. Jesus describing himself as “gentle and humble.” Matthew 11:29 Paul later challenging us to be like-minded in Philippians 2:5; instructing us to, “Be completely humble…gentle (and patient), bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 Jesus made this ideal intensely personal when he insisted that, “The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 He further taught us that, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant.” Mark 10:43 Because, in his estimation, “The last will be first, and the first will be last.” Matthew 20:16 (Reversing the world’s reasoning.) In fact, he explicitly warns, “…whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12 In other words, either humble yourself or God will do it for you.

Peter reiterated this ideal by writing, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:5,6 Practically speaking, this is accomplished by, ‘Do(ing) nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3,4 (See also Romans 12:3 & 16)

The angelic proclamation of Mary’s impending pregnancy with God’s son began with, “Greetings favored one!” Sometimes translated as “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Luke 1:28 The phrases “favored one” and “full of grace” are translated from the Greek word ‘charis’; appearing 170 times throughout the New Testament, 87 times as grace. (Its basic ideal likewise found in the word translated charity.) Such as: We stand in God’s grace ( 1 Peter 5:12), live in God’s grace ( Acts 13:43), approach the throne of God seeking His grace ( Hebrews 4:16), and are saved by God’s grace. ( Ephesians 2:5)

Adam Hamilton explaining that, “Grace is God’s kindness, his love, his care, his work on our behalf, his blessings, his gifts, his goodness, his forgiveness and his salvation.”1Changing by degrees depending on the context in which it is manifested. Grace, however, doesn’t just characterize God, it is meant to be an active part of the believer’s life as well; as once it’s received, it’s meant to be extended to others. In responding gratefully to God and graciously to others, we likewise show kindness, express compassion, do good deeds and love unconditionally. All of which has the power to change hearts, heal relationships, reconcile differences and transform lives. Grace changing the one who extends it as well as the one who receives it.

John’s gospel focuses on Jesus’ pre-existence with God at creation and his continued interaction with humankind from that point forward. “The word (that had called the world into being) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 All four gospels emphasizing the fact that his life, as well as his mother’s, the disciples and ours, won’t be free of difficulties and challenges; making it imperative that we stay true to our calling in Christ to follow him and thus remain God-blessed and grace-filled. Through it all, God was – and is – at work. Our responsibility being to accept Christ’s challenge of, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15

1From Not a Silent Night – Mary Looks Back to Bethlehem , Abingdon Press

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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