Which Came First: Loving-Kindness or Grace?

November 11, 2013 Carol 3 comments

Which Came First: Loving-Kindness or Grace?

I have been thinking a lot about these two words lately. I think that they are two of the most beautiful words in the English language. They sound beautiful; more importantly they carry beautiful meanings. I’ve been trying to better understand their meanings, and I’ve been wondering how they relate one to the other.

I discovered that both words have roots in the Bible:

This [loving-kindness] is a biblical word, invented by Miles Coverdale, and carried over into the English versions generally. It is one of the words he used in the Psalms (23 times, plus Hosea 2:19) to translate the Hebrew chesed when it refers to God’s love for his people Israel.  …The nearest New Testament equivalent to the Hebrew chesed is charis (grace), as Luther realized when he used the German Gnade for both words.

― Bible Research

So, interpreting what I just read, chesed  translates to loving-kindness, and chesed equals grace. Logically, two things equal to the same thing are equal to each other. But, in this case, I’m not entirely sure!

In an effort to clarify my thoughts, I selected first some quotes about loving-kindness, and then some pertaining to grace. You can read these below.

grace
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Loving-Kindness

“Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

Just as compassion is the wish that all sentient beings be free of suffering, loving-kindness is the wish that all may enjoy happiness. As with compassion, when cultivating loving-kindness it is important to start by taking a specific individual as a focus of our meditation, and we then extend the scope of our concern further and further, to eventually encompass and embrace all sentient beings. Again, we begin by taking a neutral person, a person who inspires no strong feelings in us, as our object of meditation. We then extend this meditation to individual friends and family members and, ultimately, our particular enemies.
We must use a real individual as the focus of our meditation, and then enhance our compassion and loving-kindness toward that person so that we can really experience compassion and loving-kindness toward others. We work on one person at a time.”
― Dalai Lama XIV

“To reteach a thing its loveliness is the nature of metta. Through lovingkindness, everyone & everything can flower again from within.”
― Sharon SalzbergLovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

“All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. The Almighty beareth Me witness: To act like the beasts of the field is unworthy of man. Those virtues that befit his dignity are forbearance, mercy, compassion and loving-kindness towards all the peoples and kindreds of the earth.”
― Bahá’u’lláh

grace
Grace

Grace

“When Catherine told me about this (tragedy nearby), I could only say, shocked, “Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and then proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this _is_ grace.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

“Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors.”
― Wm. Paul YoungThe Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity

“It is unearned love–the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It’s the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you. Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there.”
― Anne LamottTraveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ―  Jesus Christ, Matthew 11:28-30, MSG

Which Came First: Loving-Kindness or Grace?

I think that loving-kindness connects us one to another, and grace is the amazing something that somehow makes the right connections. Reread this quote:

 “When Catherine told me about this (tragedy nearby), I could only say, shocked, “Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and then proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this _is_ grace.”
― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love

In this example, Catherine and indeed the entire neighborhood, are giving loving-kindness to the family in distress. Grace is the thing that placed all the people in the neighborhood together at the same point in time. No wonder we say that grace is amazing!

Don’t you sometimes wonder why you were born to particular parents in a particular place, and at a particular time? Why do you have a particular set of friends and acquaintances, while I have a different set? Sure, there’s no doubt that free will plays a part. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s example, Catherine chose to live in that particular neighborhood. But perhaps grace somehow ensured that both Catherine and the needy family came together in that neighborhood at just the right time.

grace

Explore Further

In researching this post, I came across the most beautiful website: Sandra Hessa King. Start with this page, and you will see what I mean: booked: grace quotes.

Your Thoughts

What does grace mean to you? Have there been times in your own life where you have experienced grace? Have you ever felt that you were able to facilitate the giving of grace to someone else?

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