Has God always been gracious?
The righteousness of grace exceeds the righteousness of the law. As New Testament believers, we are under grace, but that doesn't mean the righteous requirements of God have been done away with. Jesus fulfilled the law but did not give a blanket exemption from living according to God's commands.
He said in Matthew 5:21-22, "Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment" (KJV). The law said do not kill, but grace says if you hate, you've already committed murder. The grace of God provided for us to fulfill and exceed the law, by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, is a powerful gift given to us as believers operating in the new covenant.
This book will help you understand the truth about grace and how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was God's plan from the very beginning to redeem mankind.