Sunshine and rainbows. Happy thoughts and positive things. That is how many people view God. They see Him as loving and good and merciful and gracious and faithful and patient. On the other side of the spectrum, we have those who view God solely in His righteousness – holy and just and truthful and wise. But when it comes to God’s character, no one attribute stands alone. They coexist. God is all things, all the time.
This week, we want to look at two of God’s attributes that are deeply entwined: mercy and grace. You can’t easily separate mercy from grace or grace from mercy. They are a match made in heaven… literally.
I was talking to Dave, my husband and the king of analogies, in preparing for this post. He explained it beautifully: God’s love and mercy and grace are like a rope. They are three separate and unique strands that, when braided together, create something strong and unbreakable. As Ecclesiastes 4:12 teaches us – a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. What imagery!
But while mercy and grace absolutely work together to demonstrate God’s love, they are still different qualities. Mercy is not getting what we deserve – eternity in hell. Grace is getting what we do not deserve – eternity in heaven. Mercy is God’s compassion in action while grace is God’s undeserved kindness, His favor.
We see God’s mercy when He poured out His righteous wrath on Jesus, who willingly endured a punishment He did not deserve, in our place. Mercy is God giving us a chance at life even though, because of our sin, we are entitled to immediate death. Mercy protects us from God’s judgement and provides a way for God’s grace.
And grace is what leads us home. It’s the ability to be in a personal relationship with the very Creator of our universe. It’s the hope and promise of an eternity that we, as Christ followers, look forward to. Grace is what we receive that very first time we kneel humbly before the foot of the cross, and everyday after.
Once we’ve personally accepted and embraced God’s mercy and grace, it is now our responsibility to grow in our relationship with Him and to demonstrate that same mercy and grace to those around us. We are to forgive others because we have been forgiven (mercy). We are to deal with others generously and gently just as we have experienced it ourselves (grace).
Let’s continue the good work God started in us and, in truth and in love, demonstrate to those around us what it looks like to be merciful and gracious. Give your child(ren) a second chance when they fail to listen the first time. Deliver food to those standing on the street corner. Call that friend who offended you just to let them know you still care. Donate clothes to that family who is struggling with unemployment. Be a reflection of Christ.
What is one step of obedience you can take today to mirror God’s gift of mercy and grace?
Abundantly More – Knowing God and Making God Known.
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! – Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT
This series is inspired by Jen Wilkin. For a more detailed look at holiness and love, read chapters 5 and 6 from In His Image