But, brothers and sisters, God’s love does not stop here. Since God is love, the matter of grace comes up. It is true that love is precious, but love must have its expression. When love is expressed, it becomes grace. Grace is love expressed. Love is something in God. But when this love comes to you, it becomes grace. If God is only love, He is very abstract. But thank the Lord that although love is something abstract, with God it is immediately turned into something substantial. The inward love is abstract, but the outward grace has given it substance.
For example, you may have pity on a pauper, and you may love him and have sympathy for him. But if you would not give him food and clothing, the most you could say is that you love him. You could not say that you are grace to him. When can you say that you have grace toward him? When you give him a bowl of rice or a piece of clothing or some money, and when the food, clothing, or money reach him, your love becomes grace. The difference between love and grace lies in the fact that love is within and grace is without. Love is primarily an inward feeling, while grace is an outward act. When love is turned into action, it becomes grace. When grace is traced back to its feeling, it is love. Without love, grace cannot come into being. Grace exists because love exists.
The definition of grace is not just the act of love. We must add something else to this. Grace is the act of love upon the destitute. God loves His only begotten Son. But there is no element of grace in this love. One cannot say that God deals with His Son in grace. God also loves the angels, but that cannot be considered as grace either. Why is not the Father’s love toward the Son and God’s love toward the angels grace? The reason is that there is no destitution and deprivation involved. There is only love; there is no thought of grace. Only when there is deprivation and destitution, when there is no way for one to solve his problems on his own, is love realized as grace. Since we are sinners, we are those with problems; and we have no way to solve our problems. But God is love, and His love is manifested to us as grace.
Hence, when love flows on the same level, it is simply love. But when it flows down, it is grace. Therefore, those who have never been on the low end can never receive grace. Love can also flow up. But when it does, it is not grace. Love can also flow between equal heights. When it does, it is not grace either. Only when love flows downward is it grace. If you want to be above God, or if you want to be equal with God, you will never see the day of grace. Only those who are below God can see the day of grace. This is what the Bible shows us about the difference between love and grace.
Although the Bible mentions the love of the Lord Jesus, it pays more attention to the grace of the Lord Jesus. The Bible also speaks of the grace of God, but it pays more attention to the love of God. I am not saying that there is no mention of the love of the Lord Jesus and the grace of God in the Bible. But the emphasis in the Bible is on the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus. How did Paul greet the church in Corinth? "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Cor. 13:14). You cannot change the sentence to read, "the grace of God and the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all." You cannot do this, because the emphasis of the Bible is on the love of God and the grace of the Lord Jesus. Why is this so? Because it was the Lord Jesus who accomplished salvation. It was He who substantiated love and accomplished grace. The love of God became grace through the work of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, the Bible tells us that the law was given through Moses, but grace came through Jesus Christ (John 1:17).
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 2, by Watchman Nee)