The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV)
The Hebrew word for gracious used in this verse means to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to show favor or be merciful. When we pray for God to be gracious to someone (or to us), we are praying that God (the superior) would show them (the inferior) kindness, favor and mercy. This sort of kindness or favor is unmerited. It is kindness or favor that neither has not nor cannot be earned. It is grace full of mercy.
How is God gracious to us? The apostle Paul wrote, Even when we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:5 ESV) The Greek word for grace here means graciousness. So, when we were dead in our sins, in his graciousness, God made us alive. He bent down and showed unmerited kindness to an inferior, unworthy people. A few verses later Paul wrote, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8 ESV) God graciously saved us totally of his own free will (not ours), for his own purpose and praise (Ephesians 1:6).
God’s graciousness was made effective toward us through the blood of Jesus. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7 ESV) It is by God’s grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ that we have been redeemed and that all things work together for our good. Consider Paul’s words to the Roman church:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:28-32 ESV)
All things work together for our good because we have been foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and glorified. These good things were graciously (to grant as a favor) bestowed upon us by God. None of them were merited. God has graciously given us all things to conform us into the image of his Son. Could there be a better grace? It is by God’s graciousness that he is for us not against us. How do we know that this is true? Because he did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us.
Paul was troubled by a “thorn in the flesh” and prayed three times for God to remove it. God’s answer was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). There is no circumstance that will come to us for which God has not already graciously made provision. His grace stands ready to prevail in the midst of our trials; whether in life or death. Therefore, we can draw near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Have you experienced the saving grace of God?
Scriptures for meditation: