Grace vs. Mercy. Is there a Difference?

 

 

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.

What love!

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.

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Weakness

About two years ago I read a book…I cannot, for the life of me, remember the name of this book. However, a quote from this book has stuck with me ever since. It goes something like this:

“When you don’t feel like praying, that’s when you need to get on your knees. When you don’t feel like reading your Bible, get to reading! It’s in these moments that God reveals Himself most clearly.”

This quote reminds me that I am weak. That I don’t always want to do what is beneficial for me. This reminds me that in my weakest moments as a believer God’s love, His Word, Himself, is my unwavering security. I know this is true because of the Cross.

I’m reminded daily how weak I am. Even though my security and strength is found in Christ, I still waiver. Life is hard. It isn’t a piece of cake. Struggles, trials, and temptations await us [especially as Believers] at every turn of life. But what do we do when we realize this? Do we simply give up, stop trying and forfeit? No.

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” –Romans 5:3-5

Like the quote from above said, when we don’t feel like praying or reading our Bibles, that’s when we need to do so the most! God is our source of strength. He is the only one who can help us during times of weakness. Don’t turn to the world and it’s so called “wisdom.” Rather, run to God, ask Him for clarity and guidance.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” –2 Corinthians 12:9

When have you felt weak? How have you handled it? Have you ever wanted to not seek out God, but rather ways of the world for comfort in these moments?

Does God Want Us To Be Happy?


Does God want us to be happy?

No.

Scripture, when it mentions happiness, usually speaks of it in terms of a fleeting moment or a temporal, earthly event. The scriptures, [nor Christ] never tell us that God wants us to “be happy.” He wants us to be a lot of things: righteous , holy , Godly , pure , etc….but “happy” doesn’t make the list. God is more concerned with our holiness than our happiness. [It’s cliché, I know, but it’s true.]

Typically, people [especially Americans] tend to think in terms of happiness and immediacy more than joy and steadfastness. We want God to send us good times, good feelings, and keep all the unpleasant things to Himself. But, the truth is, being happy and satisfied in our daily lives is a byproduct of following Jesus with an obedient heart. It is not the reason we follow Him.

His sacrifice demands a response, that’s why we give our life to Him. As we connect with Him and let His Spirit lead us, we are offered abundant life. Abundance in Christ is not synonymous with happiness though. I would argue that being a Christian is actually harder than not . However, the reward of following Christ, the blessing He gives of Himself, His peace, and the fruit we grow in, far outweigh our temporary sufferings while on this earth.

“For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” -Philippians 1:29

Do you think God wants us to be happy? Do you think there’s a difference between happiness and joy? What do you agree with? Disagree with?

A Challenge.

My dad challenged me to do this today, and I thought it was brilliant. Get ready to see how much you know and don’t know about what’s in the Bible…

Ready.

Set.

GO!

Step 1. Take a blank piece of paper.

Step 2. Write down every single Bible verse you’ve ever memorized in your life. (Include Scripture references, if you don’t remember those put a question mark.)

Step 3. After you’ve put down the verses, check yourself. Go through the Bible and see if you quoted it correctly/have the reference right, etc.

Step 4. Box the references for the verses (or the question marks).

Step 5. Reflect. (See below)

Reflect:
How many verses did you put down on your piece of paper? Did you fill it up? So much so that you had to get another piece of paper? Or maybe not, maybe just a few? The “standard” Bible verses, the “if-you’ve-been-to-Sunday-school-a-few-times-you-probably-have-these-memorized” verses.

I’m not presenting this challenge to make you feel guilty. In fact, that’s the last thing I would ever wish upon you from this! I present this because it was eye opening for me. When my dad challenged me (actually, this was at the dinner table, and my mom, dad, and older brother participated) I was pretty excited. I thought, “I know a ton of verses. This is going to be great.” Was I in for a surprise.

We all grabbed napkins (seeing as we were at dinner) and when my dad said, “go” we all started writing vigorously. We had a 10-minute time frame, which is a lot honestly. Upon starting, I was doing great. But then the verses stopped coming to mind, and I realized I didn’t know as much Scripture word-for-word as I thought I did. I knew ideas, and where those ideas could be found in the Word, but I did not know the verse specifically.

It turns out I got last in the competition- My dad came in first, then my mom, then my brother, Caleb- the competitive side of me wants to say, “They’re older. They’ve had more time to memorize. Plus, my dad went to seminary, of course he won.”- But I know that’s not all true. Truth is, they understand just how important memorizing scripture is.

My dad’s challenge stemmed from the fact that he takes the verses he finds in the Bible about the importance of knowing Scripture literally and gets to work. (Some passages include: 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Hebrews 4:12 , Psalm 12:6 , Romans 15:4 , 1 Peter 3:15, Colossians 3:16 , and Proverbs 4:5-9 )

Tonight I really understood that knowing Scripture is our weapon against the Enemy. We must be ready for battle, for whatever time it comes at. (See why/how here )

Are you ready?

How did you fare with this challenge? Are you ready to partake in the battle we have raging against our souls?