Glad you asked. I grew up in a Christian home. I have been in church for pretty much all of my life. I’ve bandied about different words of faith, often times not truly understanding their meanings. Two of these words, grace and mercy, are often used in our churches, our lives, our conversations and our prayers. I wonder if these are two words that we have often used, not really grasping their meanings. Today, I’ll share what these two words have come to mean to me.
Grace – The definition that I always remember hearing and repeating growing up is “unmerited favor.” What it means to me is this: getting something for which I’ve done absolutely nothing to deserve. Let me put it this way. God has shown me His grace in so many ways. Above all, I’ve come to know Him through faith in God and Christ. This relationship is based on God’s grace. It is a gift, pure and simple. There is nothing I have done or can do on my own merit to have deserved a relationship with Who I believe is the Creator of all that exists. When I am blessed with blessing after blessing, whether material, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual or whatever it may be, I am experiencing grace, getting what I don’t deserve.
Mercy – My definition is similar but quite different from my definition of grace. I like to say that mercy is not getting something negative that I absolutely do deserve. My kids learned early on about mercy. One of the kids did something that deserved a spanking. We explained what mercy was and said that we would show them mercy and not spank them. (Of course the drawback was, for several times after that, everytime they deserved a punishment, they would ask for mercy.) The ultimate merciful act was shown by Christ when he took what we deserve, death, when he died on the cross for our sins.
Now let me tell you how these work together, at least in my understanding and experience. So many times, whether through actions or words I really deserve some sort of discipline or punishment. However, not only do I not receive that punishment (I call this mercy), I am given blessing after blessing (I call this grace). The receiving of the mercy itself is also grace in my eyes. It reminds me the chorus in the song “At Calvary”, by William Newell - “Mercy there was great and grace was free. Pardon there was multiplied to me. There my burdened soul found liberty at Calvary.”