The word grace that begins this passage is a translation of the Greek word “charis.” “Charis” is also translated “favor,” as in “…Jesus continued in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). We get our English word “charisma” from “charis”. Charisma is used to describe someone with a persona that is viewed by others with favor. There is merit, or a reason, for the favor.
God’s favor comes to us through two distinctly different paths. He receives us as His children, through no merit of our own. We need only to accept it by faith. There is merit involved, but it is not ours. The only merit involved is the merit of Jesus. There are no other strings attached. This is God’s acceptance, and it is given to us without condition.
The other way God grants favor is when he approves of what we do, as in “God resists the proud but gives grace (charis, favor) to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5). God approves the behavior of his children when he deems it appropriate. God decides what he approves. God, not us, will decide what is humble or service. There will not be an opportunity for an appeal.
However, God clearly gives guidance that shows us his heart. God is merciful and, like the perfect parent he is, really wants us to succeed. Hebrews tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Fortunately for us, this life is full of opportunities to live by faith.