The terms mercy and grace are used very often in Christian circles, yet these two very important terms are sometimes misunderstood. Mercy and grace are two very different, but similar concepts. Once we as Christians understand the difference we have a greater appreciation of both our salvation and God’s love for us.
Mercy ― The definition of mercy is appropriate and just punishment withheld. I explain to children that mercy is when you did something very bad and you know you deserve a spanking, yet you don’t get spanked. For us adults, an example of mercy is when you get pulled over for speeding: You are driving at 50 mph on a 25 mph stretch of road when you are pulled over by the police. The policeman tells you that you deserve a $500 ticket, but says he will not give it to you. Rather, he lets you off with a warning, and you breathe a huge sigh of relief and thanksgiving. The policeman had mercy on you.
We as humans deserve hell. We are born in sin and have fallen short of God’s glory. Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” There is nothing that we, as sinful human beings, can do to avoid hell. Yet Jesus paid the price for our sin, taking our punishment on Himself. Jesus’ action allows God’s mercy to pay a debt we owed. We don’t have to go to hell! When we accept God’s free gift of salvation, our hell punishment is immediately nullified.
The deliverance from eternal hell is something to be thankful for every minute of our life, but there is more. God not only gives us mercy, but He adds to His mercy grace also.
Grace ― This is a gift we don’t deserve. The definition of grace that I tell children is getting a lollipop… just because. Or for adults, grace is receiving a gift, say a million dollars, tax free, too!
God promises us heaven and all of the wonderful pleasures there. This is grace. Heaven, which is God’s grace, is more than the million dollars and the lollipop to go with it! The promise, and eventually, the realization of heaven is a priceless gift we could never earn.
Mercy and grace ― two very different things, yet in our salvation they are permanently linked together. Mercy ― the deliverance from eternal torment in hell comes first, and then grace― everlasting joy in heaven. Take some time today to meditate on these two wonderful blessings that God has given ― removing your just punishment and giving you the promise of heaven. Thank Him for both His wonderful mercy and His marvelous grace.