Grace, in theological terms, is NOT a reward for our efforts. It is an unmerited gift. It is NOT an achievement of human endeavour. It is NOT a benefit attained, or a ‘top up’ to our hard work. It can NOT be presumed upon. The saying ‘God helps those who help themselves’ is in fact the antithesis of grace, for the gospel of Christ tells us that God helps those who come to the end of themselves.
While it is noble for human beings to do their best and to contribute all they can for the benefit of others, this generosity towards others can not be included as merit to pave a way to a relationship with God. In fact we make it harder to receive grace when we go to God with our hands and hearts full of our own goodness! Grace requires that we have empty hands to receive it. The consequence of receiving grace is gratefulness. Gratitude is a grace received attitude.