What is Grace?

Grace. It's a term we throw around a lot. We talk about God's grace to us in sending Jesus. We describe God as gracious. We know it's one of the core principles of our faith. But do we know how to explain it to our kids?

Sometimes, we think our kids understand things but they don't. We think they've caught what we want them to know just because they've heard it said over and over again, but that's not always true.

My older daughter has to do vocabulary homework for her language arts class nearly every day when they're reading a novel. Some days, she asks me for help, and I'm often astonished to discover that she doesn't know the definition of words that I think she knows. When it comes to the idea of grace, we don't want our kids to miss out on understanding the awesome magnitude of what God has done.

Grace is unmerited favor, to which most kids would say, "What?" Grace simply means not getting what you deserve. We offer other people grace when we don't return a snide comment. We offer them grace when we forgive them for a wrong done against us. We offer grace when we choose to ignore a slight. In all of those situations, we don't give the other person what they deserve.

Grace is important because God offered us grace by sending Jesus. Sin separates us from God. We can never bridge the gulf between us and God created by our sin. Romans 6:23 tells us, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inChrist Jesus our Lord." When we sin, we deserve an eternal death -- being separated from God forever. If God gave us what we deserve, we would never be able to bridge the gap between God and us. However, grace means that God sent Jesus to die in our place and rise again so that the gulf between us and God could be closed forever.

You can explain it to your kids like this: The next time your child does something wrong, offer to serve your child's consequence. Tell your child that you want to give him a tangible example of what grace looks like. Talk about how your child deserved that consequence just like we deserve death for our sins, but your grace means that he doesn't have to serve that consequence just like God's grace means that we don't have to be separated from God forever because Jesus took our place on the cross.

Grace isn't a hard concept for kids to grasp. We just have to make sure that we've taken the time to explain it in a way that they can understand, and we don't just assume that our kids have figured it out on their own. As I've discovered with my older daughter's vocabulary homework, hearing a word isn't the same as understanding what it means. Take some time to make sure your kids understand grace. Its definition has eternal importance.