The word “impute” entered my consciousness in a long ago conversation with Bob Tuttle, now a retired professor of theology. A gift such as grace, for example, can be imputed (i.e., ascribed, attributed, assumed, or offered). If a person chooses to accept a gift that has been imputed, it can be said that the gift has been received or imparted.
We impute things either good and bad onto other people all the time. A similar verb is project, as in, “He projected his negative attitude onto his neighbor.” To adopt grace as a major theme of one’s life is to impute, or project grace upon another person. People who’ve been abused have had rage or some other negative emotion thrust upon them, or imputed to them.
To impute grace to another person can be life-giving, or life-saving, if he or she has been the recipient of neglect, violence, or some other form of harm. Sometimes a person cannot comprehend why he or she is being accepted or loved unconditionally, so he or she may say, “What’s the catch?” The imputation of grace can change everything for the better.