Grace is so integral to the Christian faith that people can sometimes fail to realize that the general concept is not unique to Christianity. In ancient secular Greek writings, the word charis essentially meant “that which delights.” In this sense, grace could mean “a gift given” or “a favor done,” as well as “a sense of appreciation” on the part of the recipient for that gift or favor. New Testament authors employ the use of charis in each of these three senses (Acts 24:27; 2 Corinthians 8:6-7; and Hebrews 12:28-29).
God’s grace is always pure; He delights in blessing others because He is characterized by love. God is always happy to see us do well. He also delights in seeing us give to one another. This reality is such an integral part of God’s mindset, that He has given the gift of common grace to humanity.
Have you ever done something nice or helpful for another person and then felt really good about it? Of course you have. Have you ever wondered where that good feeling comes from?
Could that feeling be the product of an entirely natural evolutionary process? It hardly fits the “survival of the fittest” mentality that characterizes evolutionary theory.
Because God created the human race in His image, he provided us with a common grace that breeds a sense of delight when we give to others. Grace, in this sense, is not unique to the followers of Christ. We are all created in God’s image and so we can all experience the joy of giving. Common grace can make Christmas special even for those who aren’t walking with God.
As awesome as it can be for us to give to others, there is a problem—and one that has huge implications. Our human selfishness has a way of corrupting all that is good.
For example, how often do we do favors for others with the hopes that our “generosity” will work to our advantage? Or, how often do we give gifts with the expectation of reciprocity? Furthermore, sometimes we give not because we really care about others, but because we want that good feeling that common grace provides. Outwardly, our actions may appear to be quite noble, but inwardly, our highest concern is for ourselves.
When our giving is impure, Christmas can be a selfish, petty experience. But there is a way to steer clear of the polluted waters of impure giving during the Christmas season, and it has nothing to do with getting the best deals on gifts.
We celebrate Christmas because God unselfishly gave His Son as a gift to the human race. The “grace gift” of the Christ Child is not based on our merit but on God’s unselfish love—and His joyful desire to bless His human creatures.
If we can keep our focus on God’s gracious gift to us during this holiday season, petty selfishness will be unable to pollute the joy of our Christmas giving. And that, my friends, is what grace is all about!