Grace is a constant theme in the Bible, and it culminates in the New Testament with the coming of Jesus (John 1:17). The word translated "grace" in the New Testament comes from the Greek word charis, which means “favor, blessing, or kindness.” We can all extend grace to others; but when the word grace is used in connection with God, it takes on a more powerful meaning. Grace is God choosing to bless us rather than curse us as our sin deserves. It is His benevolence to the undeserving.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace are you saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves.” The only way any of us can enter into a relationship with God is because of His grace toward us. Grace began in the Garden of Eden when God killed an animal to cover the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). He could have killed the first humans right then for their disobedience. But rather than destroy them, He chose to make a way for them to be right with Him. That pattern of grace continued throughout the Old Testament when God instituted blood sacrifices as a means to atone for sinful men. It was not the physical blood of those sacrifices, per se, that cleansed sinners; it was the grace of God that forgave those who trusted in Him (Hebrews 10:4; Genesis 15:6). Sinful men showed their faith by offering the sacrifices that God required.
The apostle Paul began many of his letters with the phrase, "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:3). God is the instigator of grace, and it is from Him that all other grace flows.
God shows both mercy and grace, but they are not the same. Mercy withholds a punishment we deserve; grace gives a blessing we don’t deserve. In mercy, God chose to cancel our sin debt by sacrificing His perfect Son in our place (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21). But He goes even further than mercy and extends grace to His enemies (Romans 5:10). He offers us forgiveness (Hebrews 8:12; Ephesians 1:7), reconciliation (Colossians 1:19-20), abundant life (John 10:10), eternal treasure (Luke 12:33), His Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13), and a place in heaven with Him some day (John 3:16-18) when we accept His offer and place our faith in His sacrifice.
Grace is God giving the greatest treasure to the least deserving—which is every one of us.