There are two terms that I have never really thought about there being a difference between: grace and mercy. For a long time I have always thought they were essentially the same thing. But then I started thinking about it, and in reality they can’t be the same because they are used over and over again in the Bible in different ways, contexts, and examples.
I was thinking about this when some of my campers, during Bible study one morning were asking about what the difference was. Luckily my co and I had combined our Bible studies that day because she had an answer ready for them. Here’s what she said:
Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you do deserve.
You receive grace. You get mercy.
This blew me away. It’s so true. These two terms cannot be the same thing; they are used too uniquely in Scripture. One of my favorite uses of the word grace in the Bible is when Paul is talking about the thorn in his flesh, and how God responded to him when he asked Him to take it away. God responds by saying,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
We don’t deserve the love that Christ showers on us every day. We are fallen and everything in us naturally wants to turn away from God. However, God shows His love for us because of His grace. We don’t deserve the sacrifice He gave, we don’t deserve His love, yet He gives it to us. Christ tells Paul that His grace, everything we don’t deserve from Christ, is sufficient for Him through the thorn in his flesh.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” -1 Peter 1:3
I love this! We so don’t deserve God’s love, forgiveness, or mercy, yet He gives it to us. As I said earlier, mercy is not getting what you do deserve. What we deserve from God is eternal punishment, separation from Him, and His wrath only. But that’s not what we get. No, we get His love, His forgiveness, His guidance, all because of His mercy. Rather than just leaving us to burn in hell, He sent us a way out. He sent us His son. We were given mercy because we, as sinners-missing God’s mark- deserve nothing but separation from our Creator for always. Yet He gives us nothing but His mercy because He provides a way out from His wrath. His wrath is met when we accept His Son’s sacrifice. Christ graciously gave of Himself so that we could have mercy and rein in Heaven with our King for all of eternity.
Take a moment and think about what Christ did. What He gives us because of His sacrifice.
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
Defining terms really is that important. What other terms do we typically think are essentially the same? I’d love to hear your thoughts.