Hope Reflected | Grace and Mercy: Two sides of the coin
Grace and Mercy: Two sides of the coin
You check into a nice hotel, and the hostess behind the desk gives you a free upgrade to a better room. Rather than staying in a basic room, you’re now enjoying the evening in a luxury suite. This is an example of grace – you’re receiving something that you don’t deserve and you didn’t do anything to earn.
You’re driving down the highway doing more than 100km in an 80km zone and you get pulled over. Rather than hit you with a ticket for speeding, the police officer who pulls you over lets you off with a warning. This would be an example of mercy – you’re not getting what you really deserve.
There are several examples of grace and mercy that each of us experience in life, but by far the most powerful examples of grace and mercy that we could ever experience are those that come to us from God.
Millard Erickson once said, “God’s mercy is His tenderhearted, loving compassion for His people. It is His tenderness of heart toward the needy. If grace contemplates humans as sinful, guilty, and condemned, mercy sees them as miserable and needy.”
It is interesting to note that grace is mentioned 170 times in the Bible, and mercy is mentioned 273 times. Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favour. Mercy, on the other hand, is defined as not getting what we truly deserve.
So how can we take these godly traits and exercise them in each of our own lives? We’re humans, so our human nature often makes it difficult for us to display grace and mercy to others, because neither attribute comes naturally to us.
- We can demonstrate grace through our words. “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6) As Christians, we are called to season our speech with salt and to speak with grace. This can be so hard, am I right?! Sometimes it seems like it’s easier to complain, to talk about that person behind his or her back, or to let our frustrations out through our words. Demonstrating grace means exercising caution and kindness when we’re speaking to others. It means using language that is edifying and words that build up, rather than words that insult or tear down.
- We can demonstrate mercy through our actions. “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Maybe someone’s done you wrong, or thrown you under the bus. Your immediate instinct – and mine – is to react. But, that immediate reaction, is it to show mercy to your offender? If you’re anything like me, the answer is probably not. When someone acts out against you and is a total jerk, a good rule of thumb is to take a breath. Wait a while before you respond to that email, stay silent until you’re prepared to provide a level-headed answer. Rather than react in the same manner as your offender, react with mercy and you’ll be surprised with how it goes over (see Proverbs 25:22). Remember, resolution over retaliation!
Living a life filled with grace and mercy isn’t always easy; on the contrary, because these two godly traits don’t come naturally to us, we must rely on our Heavenly Father to live and practice grace and mercy. It’s only because of God’s own grace and mercy that we can even begin to exhibit these traits. As sinners, we are condemned and deserve God’s wrath, but by His grace, He saved us, and in His mercy He has granted us eternal life. God’s grace is immeasurable, and God’s mercy is inexhaustible. The best part? God’s grace and God’s mercy are available to anyone who chooses to believe in Christ as their personal Saviour.