What’s the difference between grace and mercy, and why does this matter? In my mind, the mercy and grace of God complement each other, and very much overlap. Throughout the bible we see that whenever God pours out his mercy, He also pours out his grace. They’re intertwined and yet symbiotic as they differ.
The magnitude of the kindness of God to reach out to each of us in our need and convey upon us a benefit that we clearly have done nothing to merit or deserve is amazing to ponder. The grace of God is described as ‘unmerited favor’. It is well meaning, and translated into action, that releases the power of God into our very lives. His mercy is an expression of the compassion he has for each of us.
We never earn His favor and are always indebted to Him to extend his mercy and bestow upon us His grace. From the moment of the start of life itself until our last breath, He provides sustenance for us each to live and exist.
Acts 17:28 says, “In him we live and move and have our being (our existence)”.
First off, none of us ever deserve mercy or grace. Thankfully God shows compassion on us despite our many sins, and yes we each deserve his wrath for our ineptness. The other amazing thing about God is that his graciousness and mercy are shown to those who absolutely do not love him and who will never thank him. Yet, God continually pours out his mercy and grace to all, especially on those he saves through Christ Jesus.
Another way to think about this, is that the mercy of God is NOT giving us sinners what we deserve while God’s grace is absolutely giving us sinners what we do NOT deserve.
The word ‘merciful’ in Hebrew means ‘compassionate’ or ‘full of compassion’. It means ‘to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, or to show favor or bestow’. The English word ‘grace’ means elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action; mercy; clemency; pardon. Most theologians define ‘grace’ as ‘unmerited favor’.
So back when my grown adult children were toddlers, I would give them ‘mercy and grace’ when opting to punish them with appropriate ‘time out’ rather than other more severe forms of punishment. I would call this ‘grace’, so they understood over time what this meant. It later came in handy when they in turn felt like being mean or severe in punishing those around them who had clearly done wrong.
Psalm 86:15 says, “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness”.
This is mercy at its finest. We have all sinned against a holy God. We deserve eternal wrath in hell for sure. But in His mercy, God poured out on Jesus the
wrath we each deserved, while he was on that cross, so that we could each in turn escape His wrath!
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” — Romans 5:6.
We are told to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Y’shua Messiah” in 2 Peter 3:18.
As physicians we know that living things grow! By comparison, that which is
stunted in growth becomes weak and diseased over time. Growth is really the antidote for falling away from the faith, from “the true grace of God wherein you stand” (1 Peter 5:12). The only place we can stand is in His enabling power. Not on our OWN works or efforts or knowledge or achievements or whatever…..we ONLY always stand by His grace and mercy.
It’s good to remember, “For God gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5) but resists the proud.
For reasons known only to God, even though we humans had spat on him, broke his laws, rejected and disobeyed him, he had compassion on us all.
God doesn’t take pleasure in punishing us, even those who reject and hate him. So, in his mercy, he chose to not give every single one of us what we deserved as eternal punishment in hell. Instead, in His mercy, He poured out his wrath on his beloved son…Christ Jesus. Wow…
Jesus did not have to die for us. He did not have to pay for OUR sins. But our God is compassionate and merciful, so did not give us what we deserved. He gave it instead to Jesus.
Someone once said, “Grace is when God gives us goodness that we don’t deserve. Mercy is when He spares us from bad things that we deserve. Blessings are when He is generous with both”.
Bottom line here: when we believe in Jesus, and because of His grace and mercy, God gives us what none of us deserve.
These things include:
- Eternal life
- We are His adopted children
- Makes us joint heirs with Christ
- His Holy Spirit always abides here on earth in and among us
- Gives us power and victory over our sin
- Lives within each of us Jesus followers
- Causes all things to work together for His good
- Hears our prayers
- He will never take away His love for us
- Someday…we will see His face and look into His eyes
God’s grace and mercy are always immeasurable and inexhaustible compared to any stupid sin we come up with on our own. Our sin here on earth is never greater than the mercy and grace of God.
Seek the grace and mercy of God…and be sure and give grace and mercy to all around you.