Many religious people talk about grace or sing songs about it. They usually know that it and truth came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17) and that by it we are saved (Ephesians 2:5, 8). Sadly, few people can explain what grace is! A straightforward definition of God's grace is best understood by using the word "favor" in its place.
Why the confusion?
Perhaps the greatest reason why the word grace is often misunderstood is that it is rarely if ever used by people, unlike favor, in their everyday lives. The lack of its use in "the real world" leads folks to be ignorant regarding what it actually means. This was not the intention of the New Testament writers! They wrote in Koine Greek, which is the Greek used by the average person in the first century. They did this so that the widest possible audience at the time could comprehend what they wrote.
Understanding the word
We derive the KJV New Testament word "grace" from the Greek charis (Strong's #G5485). Charis, however, can also be translated as "favor" as it is in Luke 1:30, 2:52, Acts 2:47, 7:10, 46 and 25:3. Using this word, in many Biblical verses, allows an accurate and more understandable meaning of God's word to come through.
People are favored for a variety of reasons such as who they are and what they do. For example, the Bible states that Jesus, "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). He was favored because he was the Son of God and because he did many miracles. Mary, likewise, was blessed to bare him, "Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God" (Luke 1:30).
Why give it to man?
God did not favor, with justification, the angels who sinned and therefore did not offer them sonship (Hebrews 1:5, 2:6 - 10). He gave preference to man because we are made in his image!
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God . . . (1John 3:1, KJV throughout).
Those who do not believe that man is made in God's image cannot understand why we are favored with justification for our past sins.
The second reason we receive favor (grace) is because we have the Father's Holy Spirit in us and leading us to keep the commandments in their spirit and intent (1Peter 1:22). In fact, if we, as Christians, obey our Creator and endure persecution we can receive more of it over time!
. . . but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable (Greek charis, favor) with God (1Peter 2:20).
By keeping the commandments, we stay in God's favor and grow in knowledge. He watches over us as any good Father watches over his children (Matthew 5:48, 1Peter 3:12, 5:10 - 12, 1John 3:10). He even chastens us if we get too far out of line (Hebrews 12:6 - 8). True Christians are under amazing favor from God!