What does it mean to give grace to others (or yourself) and how can we do it?
Grace, compassion, and productivity
At the end of every episode, I encourage you to extend grace to others and to yourself. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what that means: what grace is, why it matters, and how we can extend it.
It’s a concept I think is important, and as a result, I think it’s important that we’re on the same page on what we’re talking about.
What is grace?
One definition of grace is ‘simple elegance or refinement of movement.’ Another is ‘courteous goodwill.’
In the Christian faith, grace refers to ‘the free and unmerited favor of God,‘ and whether you follow Christian beliefs or not, this definition has some value in what we’re talking about today.
In the work I do as a real estate lawyer, the term “grace period” comes up a lot, and this refers to “a period officially allowed for payment of a sum due or for compliance with a law or condition, especially an extended period granted as a special favor.”
Another definition I love is “a disposition to kindness and compassion.”
The origin of the word grace comes from Middle English via Old French from the Latin word gratia, which means thankful. The term grace is related to grateful.
Think about that for a moment.
Synonyms of grace are blessing, courtesy, decency, manners, politeness, decorum, respect, favor, approval, approbation, acceptance, esteem, regard, respect, and goodwill. So, when I say extend grace to one another, I am saying extend favor to one another.
When I googled the word grace, most of the references talked about it in the context of the Christian faith: God’s grace to us being his unmerited favor. These articles talk about the difference between mercy and grace, where mercy is not giving a punishment that’s deserved, and grace is giving favor or blessing that is not deserved.
People of faith believe God has extended grace to us, and this creates an obligation to extend it to others. Even if you embrace a different faith, the concept still applies.
Grace does not mean excusing or ignoring fault or failure or bad behavior. Grace requires us to look at the recipient with compassion (which is defined as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others).
When we are asked to extend grace to someone else, we are giving them favor or approval they haven’t earned. In order to do that, we’re going to have to look at that person with compassion, sympathy, and concern for their sufferings and misfortunes.
I think the quote above is a great example of what compassion calls us to do: to remember that we don’t know what’s going on in the life of a person who we believe doesn’t deserve our approval or grace.
In order to extend grace to someone who is rude to us, for example, we’re going to have to look at them with compassion and recognize that we don’t see the whole story.
I believe the focus of grace should be on what we’re giving rather than what the other person deserves.
The point here is regardless of what another person may do, we can choose to extend grace. There may still be consequences for their behavior, but it doesn’t have to move in and live in our hearts. Grace is something we can generate on purpose out of compassion.
Why develop compassion in your life?
So why does it matter? Why do I talk about grace and compassion on a podcast about productivity?
Largely because, as we often say in The Productive Woman community, productivity is about more than getting stuff done, it’s about making a life that matters. And the impact on our own life of developing the compassion required to extend grace is immeasurable.
“Why develop compassion in your life? Well, there are scientific studies that suggest there are physical benefits to practicing compassion — people who practice it produce 100 percent more DHEA, which is a hormone that counteracts the aging process, and 23 percent less cortisol — the “stress hormone.” But there are other benefits as well, and these are emotional and spiritual. The main benefit is that it helps you to be more happy, and brings others around you to be more happy.”
When do we (or others) need grace?
- When we’ve messed up
- When we’re overwhelmed
- When we’ve fallen short of expectations
Perfect people don’t need grace, but there are no perfect people
Why does it matter?
- Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. When things go wrong, we want grace for ourselves, but justice for others. Maybe when we extend grace to others, they will extend grace back to us.
- Bearing grudges and living in judgment distract us from the things it takes to make the life we want. It takes a lot of mental energy to bear grudges and judge others. When we are focused on those emotions, we have fewer resources, internal or otherwise, to focus on accomplishing the things that matter. Therefore, extending grace to others and to ourselves has a direct bearing on our productivity.
- The opposite is unlivable
- Antonyms of grace – cruelty, disfavor, harshness, hatred, malevolence, meanness, unforgiveness, unkindness, ill will, enmity, animosity, hostility, antagonism, spitefulness, loathing, bitterness, resentment, malice, disapproval
What is gained by extending any of those to another person?
Nothing productive has ever come from these
- One person choosing to extend grace can make a difference. If the news media are to be believed, we live in an angry, judgmental, hateful, violent world. There is no way to overcome that except by choosing, each one of us, to live our lives guided by grace and compassion rather than by condemnation and anger.
How can we extend grace?
- With our words
“Be kind and gentle in what you say and how you say it.”
- With our acts
Look for opportunities to do a kindness
- Choose to not respond in kind when someone is rude to you – let it go
- Be present when they’re in need of support
- Understand that each person, even the “worst” person, is doing the best she is capable of at the moment, with the resources she has available to her
There are some wonderful suggestions in an article called “A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, with 7 Practices”. One of my favorites was “the commonality practice.” The idea is to focus on what you have in common with others. Focus your attention on a particular person, maybe one who has wronged you and tell yourself:
Step 1: “Just like me, this person is seeking happiness in his/her life.”
Step 2: “Just like me, this person is trying to avoid suffering in his/her life.”
Step 3: “Just like me, this person has known sadness, loneliness and despair.”
Step 4: “Just like me, this person is seeking to fill his/her needs.”
Step 5: “Just like me, this person is learning about life.”
If you struggle with extending grace or feeling compassion towards certain people, try to picture them as a child. We usually find it easier to extend grace to children
To extend grace to yourself, start by doing all of the above.
Show compassion to yourself.
“Not everything that weighs you down is yours to carry.”
Maybe you’re weighed down by something or some things. Maybe guilt or grief or fear or a sense of inadequacy fills your mind (leaving you with no mental bandwidth to create or even think) or slows you or makes you hesitate instead of moving forward toward the meaningfully productive life you long for. Maybe there’s something you need to do, such as apologize to someone or even to yourself. But maybe whatever is weighing you down isn’t yours to carry. If that’s the case, then lay it down, my dear friend.
Grace is not earned. Grace is undeserved favor. You can extend this to yourself, just as you would to anybody else.
What do you think?
What does grace mean to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below this post or in The Productive Woman Community Facebook group, or send me an email.
- A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, With 7 Practices
- 9 Ways to Extend Grace to Others
- A Guide to Cultivating Compassion in Your Life, with 7 Practices”
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Grace requires us to look at the recipient with compassion (which is defined as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others). When we are asked to extend grace to someone else, we are giving them favor or approval they haven't earned.What does God say about giving grace? ›
God wants us to grow strong in giving grace to others. Giving grace to another person is simply to forgive them, unconditionally, just as God forgave us through Christ. "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13, NIV).How do I give myself grace? ›
- Practice not being perfect. Perfection is not something we can actually be or achieve. ...
- Gratitude. Practice it. ...
- Self-compassion. ...
- Stop scrolling. ...
- Let it go. ...
- Apologize. ...
- Have a sense of humor. ...
- Silence negative self-talk.
Give yourself grace is permission to forgive your mistakes, lapses in judgment, and hurtful behavior, because no one is perfect. The saying has deep roots in yoga and faith communities, and it frequently shows up online as a hashtag or inspirational quote.What is the meaning of grace in the Bible? ›
Grace is the basis for the Christian faith. We believe we are saved by faith through grace. God's grace is usually defined as undeserved favor. Grace cannot be earned; it is something that is freely given. We count on God's grace and the bridge he built in our relationship with him.What are the 4 types of grace? ›
John Wesley and the Wesleyan Traditions speak of four types of grace: prevenient, justifying, sanctifying, and glorifying.What is the spiritual meaning of grace? ›
grace, in Christian theology, the spontaneous, unmerited gift of the divine favour in the salvation of sinners, and the divine influence operating in individuals for their regeneration and sanctification.Is it biblical to give yourself grace? ›
The Bible tells us how we should treat ourselves because of how God treats us. We can give ourselves grace because God gives us grace, which is kindness and forgiveness that we don't deserve. This grace came at the cost of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sacrificing His own life for us.What are the benefits of giving yourself grace? ›
Grace will allow you to tell your story on your terms so you control only what you can. When you understand this, you will gain a sense of freedom and independence to achieve your goals at your pace. Giving yourself grace in life and recovery will help you confront and learn from your mistakes and setbacks.What are the three types of grace? ›
It specifies three types of grace: prevenient grace, which is God's active presence in people's lives before they even sense the divine at work in their lives; justifying grace, through which all sins are forgiven by God; and sanctifying grace, which allows people to grow in their ability to live like Jesus.
A grace is a short prayer or thankful phrase said before or after eating. The term most commonly refers to Christian traditions. Some traditions hold that grace and thanksgiving imparts a blessing which sanctifies the meal. In English, reciting such a prayer is sometimes referred to as "saying grace".What is the biblical meaning by grace alone? ›
Grace alone means that God loves, forgives, and saves us not because of who we are or what we do, but because of the work of Christ. Our best efforts can never be good enough to earn salvation, but God declares us righteous for Christ's sake. We receive that grace through faith alone.What are the 7 graces in the Bible? ›
They are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.What is the strong definition of grace? ›
unmerited love and favor of God which is the spring and source of all benefits men receive from Him, including especially His assistance given man for his regeneration or sanctification. ( Grace is) a virtue from God influencing man, renewing his heart and restraining him from sin. (What are the 5 characteristics of grace? ›
- G is for generosity, the will to do something more for others.
- R is respect, the dignity of life and work.
- A is action, the mechanism for change.
- C is compassion, the concern for others.
- E is energy, the spirit that catalyzes us.
The name, “Five Graces”, refers to an Eastern concept — the five graces of sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Each needs to be honored in the full experience of life.What are 5 graces received in the Holy Spirit? ›
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.What is grace according to Jesus? ›
Grace is a gift from Heavenly Father given through His Son, Jesus Christ. The word grace, as used in the scriptures, refers primarily to enabling power and spiritual healing offered through the mercy and love of Jesus Christ. Everyone on earth experiences physical death.How does the church define grace? ›
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines grace like this: “Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and eternal life. Grace is a participation in the life of God.” (CCC #1996-1997, emphasis added.)Does the Holy Spirit give us grace? ›
So the Holy Spirit gives to the believer numerous types of grace. Sanctifying grace to give life, sacramental grace to help us grow and actual grace to help us with everyday situations. The Holy Spirit also gives to the soul a variety of other virtues.
The means by which God grants grace are many. They include the entirety of revealed truth, the sacraments and the hierarchical ministry. Among the principal means of grace are the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), prayers and good works. The sacramentals also are means of grace.Who gives us grace? ›
God Gives Grace
When we are weighed down by the cares of the world, the stresses of life, the learning curves of marriage or motherhood or anything else, we can remember: God has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
Jesus said, "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." (Luke 6:27-28 NIV) In the following verses Jesus gives several specific examples of how to treat those who have hurt you, and He concludes with, "Be merciful, just as ...How do you stay in God's grace? ›
- Constant fellowship in God's presence - Psalm 84:7.
- Knowledge of the truth - 1 Timothy 2:4. You must constantly feast on the Word of God to grow. ...
- By faith. God's grace is sustained by faith - Romans 5:2.
- Prayer - Acts 4:31, 33.
- Practice God's Word. ...
- Prompt obedience. ...
- Do it Face to Face. If you are the person wanting to end the relationship, a person to person conversation is the only option. ...
- Avoid Blame. ...
- Take the High Road. ...
- Purge and Delete. ...
- Give Yourself Time to Heal. ...
- Lower Your Expectations. ...
- Change the Subject. ...
Through grace, you are freed from feeling that you have to hide your sin from Him. God's grace enables you to be all He has called you to be. Because of grace, you no longer need to compare yourself to others or feel God has blessed them more. You no longer need to live in shame.What is the effect of grace on a person? ›
Grace gives us staying power to keep going.
With grace comes courage, resilience, and resoluteness despite our fragility, weakness, and sin. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (1 Cor 12:9).
Joseph was sold into slavery because of his dream. But when grace spoke, his buyer resold him into the house of Potiphar, which led him into the land of Egypt. When grace speaks, every step taken by man is ordered by God. The roads may be rough and the immediate expectation may be blunt, but God is at work underneath.What are the seven ways to grow in grace? ›
The Seven Means are, Hearing the Gospel—The Study of Scripture—Prayer—Religious Meditation & Self-Examination—Fellowship—Baptism—The Lord's Supper.What are two beliefs about grace? ›
Grace is the unconditional love of God for everyone, regardless of whether or not they have obeyed his will. Some Christians believe that salvation does not need to be earned through doing good works. Instead, they believe that grace can be achieved by believing in God and his son Jesus Christ.
Grace gives us a new life which is not condemned by God. Through God's grace we are forgiven, transforming our thinking, resulting in the renewal of our mind and heart. Through grace we live the kind of life that God would like every one of His children to experience.What is a good grace prayer? ›
Use a Familiar Grace Prayer for Any Meal
“Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord.” Catholics tend to use a familiar prayer when saying grace and engaging in mealtime prayers. This prayer is typically followed by the sign of the cross.
Short Prayer for Grace and Deliverance
O Lord, feed your people with your grace, and deliver our souls from the death of sin. Fill us with your mercy, that we may be united with the joys of the righteous; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. May this divine presence of his grace love and fellowship, reform, renew and release us to live lives in which people see and experience grace love and fellowship.What verses support grace alone? ›
- Ephesians 2:8–9. For by grace you have been saved through faith. ...
- 2 Corinthians 12:9–10. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ...
- Hebrews 4:15–16. ...
- John 1:16–17. ...
- Romans 6:14. ...
- 1 Corinthians 15:10. ...
- Titus 2:11–14.
God's Grace Is Forgiveness
It's forgiveness from our sins. The gift of salvation. The Bible teaches us that grace is a gift of God. Our mistakes, our sin, condemn us and separate us from God.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.How does Jesus show us grace? ›
God showed grace by performing many miracles and also by healing those who are sick and crippled because that was the will of the Lord. One story in the Bible where Jesus showed Grace, is where Jesus healed the 10 sick people with leprosy and when only one out of ten came back to thank Jesus for healing him/her.Where in the Bible does it say God gives more grace? ›
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, 'God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble'” (James 4:6).What does having grace mean? ›
Merriam-Webster defines a person having grace to be one with “a controlled, polite, and pleasant way of behaving.” To the world, it is a way of carrying oneself. It is seen as a trait that plays out in your actions.
God's grace can only be received through faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace is, therefore, not something we can earn.What are examples of God's grace in our lives? ›
Grace looks like receiving forgiveness from my sister when I've said something I shouldn't have. Grace looks like the kindness and compassion of a parent. Grace looks like a friend stepping in and helping me out whenever I am stuck. All around us, there is evidence of God's grace.What are the 5 effects of grace? ›
Grace has five effects in us: first, our soul is healed; second, we will good; third, we work effectively for it; fourth, we persevere; fifth, we break through to glory.Does God extend grace to everyone? ›
“Today and forevermore God's grace is available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite. … “… I pray that we will show our love for God and our gratitude for the gift of God's infinite grace by keeping His commandments and joyfully 'walk[ing] in [a] newness of life' [Romans 6:4].”Why is God's grace so powerful? ›
God's grace is amazing because it is an undeserved and free gift. Though it costs us NOTHING, it cost Jesus EVERYTHING! But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.What gives us God's abundant grace? ›
The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross provides salvation through grace for all those who believe. No matter how many people accept Him as Saviour, the saving grace of Jesus is never exhausted. No matter what sins a person may have committed, grace is able to cover them all. Grace abounds more than sin ever could.What are the three meanings of grace? ›
According to the Catholic Church, the means of grace that Christ entrusted to the Church are many. They include the entirety of revealed truth, the sacraments and the hierarchical ministry. Among the principal means of grace are the sacraments (especially the Eucharist), prayers and good works.What is a person who has grace? ›
Grace commonly refers to a smooth and pleasing way of moving, or a polite and thoughtful way of behaving. But when someone says they were late to the airport and only made it onto their plane by the grace of God, they're talking about grace in the context of God's favor.