Have you ever been afraid of a word? As a young man I was afraid of “grace,” defined as God's “unmerited favor” for sinners. I wasn't sure what that meant, but I knew better than to trust it. I could picture myself standing before the Judgment Bar waiting for my unmerited favor. God looks at me, groans, and says, “Ugh! How rotten! How unworthy! All right, since you accepted Jesus I'll have to let you in--just stay out of my sight.”
Finally I learned, however, that grace is a happy word! The word in Greek is charis, pronounced KAR-iss. It is a delightful word, also being translated kindness, delight, beauty, and favor. It is closely related to chara (kah-RAH), the word for joy. It finally dawned on me that “grace” means that God not only loved me--He also likes me. He actually wants to share His heaven with me!
Paul wrote of charis more than any other New Testament writer, using the word 100 times. Every epistle signed by Paul both begins and ends with a note of grace. Perhaps Paul's background as an enemy of the cross put him in a unique position to appreciate God's grace. Paul tells us we are justified by God’s grace as a gift (Rom 3:24) and we are not under law but under grace (Rom 6:14). We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8), to the praise of his glorious grace (Eph 1:6).
Grace is a friendly word, full of goodwill and graciousness. The picture of grace is Almighty God on the Throne of Judgment . . . smiling!