At the core of Christianity is the revelation that God loves us. Although, He had nothing to gain from it He created us and continues to maintain us in existence. Perhaps even more astonishingly God unites Himself to souls and shares His life with us. This life is a free gift which God gives to us called grace. This gift can be thought of as desiring the good of another, as a gift given to another, and gratitude for the gift given. Scripture is full of examples of the grace that God has offered to mankind.
Grace is both God communicating Himself to us and the effects his presence produces in us. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his disciples that He and the Father will come to dwell in him who keeps His word (John 14:23). This grace elevates our nature so we can partake in the inner life of the Trinity. God comes to us and turns us back toward Himself. This gift of self is just that: a gift.
That gift is a communication of divine love. God first communicates love by creating us which is a free and unnecessary action. Perhaps even more remarkably God does not abandon us when we turn away from Him. Instead, Christ becomes Incarnate to merit our salvation and invite us into communion. He wills our everlasting happiness even in the face of rejection. God chooses to come to us and dwell with us in a supernatural way which manifests His love. We are the beneficiaries of divine benevolence so we may be united with God. God offers this to us solely for our benefit because He has nothing to gain.
Grace is not something that we can earn or deserve. Rather, as Paul tells us, grace is a gift of the Spirit to prepare us for the love of God and to return that love (II Cor 5:5). Although, we have the law to help guide us in acting correctly, we are not justified by doing so. Rather, Christ offers Himself for our redemption to restore our friendship with God. Christ condescends to become one of us so that we might be adopted into the Trinitarian family.
God offers Himself in this way because He is love and wills that we not be lost. Our first parents received the gift of God’s love, but, preferred love of self to Him. However, God did not abandon us to this foolishness. Christ offers himself to renew our relationship with God and store that the grace that we had rejected. Grace is a gift given to us, but also demonstrates that God desires what is good for us and offers Himself to us freely to undo the self-inflicted wound of sin.
St. Paul describes sin as enslavement to the world and Christ liberates us from this slavery. In order to free us, God offers grace. This grace is not only freedom from sin, but freedom from all things that separate us from God. In the book of Romans Paul identifies three related obstacles to true freedom: death, sin, and the Law.
Sin is the barrier that separates us from God. The law helped mankind to know what sin to avoid, but we were also made captive to sin because of the law (Romans 7:6). The law applies to external action but does not help us possess the love that is meant to motivate the proscriptions of the law. Yet, even if a man were to keep the law in behavior as well as in his heart this would not justify him. The gift of salvation comes from God alone and we do not have the means of saving ourselves. The law tempts us to rely on our own power rather than on God. This is the origin of the slavery of sin.
God offers His grace and forgiveness to the fallen. Each is free to accept or reject this grace. Those who accept turn completely to Christ and live according to the law of love. This is made possible by the grace that builds upon our nature and empowers us follow the model of holiness that Christ has given us. The sinner gives thanks to God for his freedom by rejecting sin and denying the passions which destroy charity.
Grace is the perfect gift of divine love which is God Himself. God wills our good despite of our failings. He offers Himself freely out of love and a desire for our happiness. This grace enables us to respond in gratitude to His gift by returning His love as sons of God.