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Saturday, August 05, 2017

Inbox: Grace and Gratitude

PB takes thoughts from last Monday’s post in an interesting direction:

“ ‘Grace’ as understood today does indeed fall woefully short of conveying the depth of meaning in charis. Gratia, whence cometh grace, was ‘a goddess of charm, beauty, nature, human creativity and fertility in Greek mythology’, so it isn’t that the meaning has changed — it’s pretty close actually. It’s as you say — we don’t have an equivalent in English for charis.”

If we are to talk usefully about grace to people who do not understand what we mean by it, we are probably best to use four or five different English words, each conveying a single aspect of the meaning of charis.

I lean toward “favor” and “gift” for two of these, but our reader points us to yet another way the word is used in our Bibles:
“And more importantly (IMHO) that’s ​without even beginning to consider that charis is not only God’s unmerited favor toward us, but also conveys the essential concept of our response to receiving that favor toward Him, being translated as ‘thanks’ about half the time it appears (‘Thanks [charis] be to God!’). This of course is the reason we say ‘grace’ and many languages use it for thank you, gracias, etc.​

My take on this is that charis is a two-way street — God’s favor and the appropriate response to it.​ We only participate in grace when we fully respond appropriately to it in gratitude. Although the grace bestowed may be unilateral (or not!), our grace experience will equal our gratitude experience.​”
This is a very good point. A gift that is not acknowledged remains a gift. There is no deficiency on the part of the giver. Still, we recognize that the giving experience is incomplete without a corresponding expression of appreciation, which is why we teach our children to write those time-consuming and sometimes awkward notes and “Thank You” emails after the initial excitement of Christmas or a birthday has subsided.

Thanksgiving is not some kind of optional faith add-on” that only applies to a certain particularly emotional and demonstrative class of Christian. It is our ordinate, appropriate response to God and should be an ongoing feature of every believer’s experience.

Or, as the Lord himself put it, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?

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