Grace and Mercy
By David Agbi
Hebrews 10, Hebrews 12
Both mercy and grace are attributes of God which he bestows freely on mankind according to his own will. However, the question is often asked; what is the difference between mercy and grace?
Imagine if you were in school and you are getting back an exam. Some are nervous, some are excited. When your classmates have their exams handed back to them, there are various emotions. Some are happy and some are sad. When you get your exam back, you receive an F. However, your teacher says that he will let you redo the exam so you can obtain a mark better than an F. Another solution though is that he gives a Staples gift card along with a chance to redo your exam. These solutions are examples of mercy and grace being shown to you.
Mercy and grace are often used interchangeably when, in fact, they are not the same. Mercy, in my opinion, is not receiving something that you do deserve (for your own good). For Christians, this means that we would not be punished for our sins because God had mercy upon us, but only if we admit our sins and ask for forgiveness. If we do so, our slate is wiped clean! This occurred to many people in times past, including David (2 Samuel 11). David, after committing adultery with Bathsheba, even attempted to cover up his sins by trying to force Uriah to lie with Bathsheba and when Uriah refused, he put Uriah on the forefront of the battle so he could die (which he did) which would allow David to marry Bathsheba. He should have died for his sin (2 Samuel 12: 5-12). However, the Lord had mercy on him because he asked for forgiveness. Another example would be King Ahab. We all know he was a wicked king and when he wanted the field of Naboth the Jezreelite (1 Kings 22: 1-14), when Naboth didn’t give/sell the field to him, Ahab allowed Jezebel to write in his name and in his name, Jezebel stated that Naboth should be slain. He was to be punished, however, because Ahab humbled himself before God and asked for forgiveness (he put sackcloth upon himself and fasted) (1 Kings 22: 18 – 29), he was forgiven, even with all the evil that he did in his lifetime (however, his son was punished for Ahab’s actions). With all these actions, there was a punishment that was to be charged to them, however, God forgave these people because they admitted their sins and asked for forgiveness. Therefore, admittance is a key part to God forgiving your sins.
I pray that God will give us a humble heart to be able to admit our sins, so that we may be forgiven, in Jesus Name.
Grace, however, is receiving something that we do not deserve (unmerited favour). This is the main focal point of Christianity as the classical example of grace is when Jesus came down for every one of us, so that our sins would be forgiven. God was longsuffering to us, not only by giving us time to repent, but also suffering long on the cross. He wanted us not to perish, but to come to repentance (2 Peter 2:9) and so that everyone should have eternal life (John 3:16). Many others received or were shown grace such as Noah, as he found grace in the Lord’s eyes, as he walked with God (Genesis 6:8 – 9). Because of this, he was saved and he was part of one of the seven main covenants that God established with mankind (Genesis 9). Also, going back to David, when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, he received not only mercy, but also grace when God gave him another son, Solomon (2 Samuel 12:24), who would eventually be the next king of Israel. However, both of these situations cannot be compared to the grace that we received from God. Jesus coming down for us was both mercy and grace that was bestowed upon us. We did not deserve to be saved, as we had fallen short of the glory of God in the Garden of Eden (Romans 3:23), however, his coming allowed for the remittance of sins. Also, because Jesus came, there is now no condemnation for us Christians, as now we walk after the Spirit instead of after the flesh (Romans 8:1) and are no more servants to sin, but are free in him (John 7:34-36). However, just because God bestowed grace on us, it does not mean we should continue in sin (Romans 6:1-2) nor do we frustrate the grace that God has given to us (Galatians 2:21). I pray that we will be able to recognize the grace that God has given to us so that we will not frustrate the grace of God, or grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) in Jesus Name.
Finally, to conclude, it is important to realize that the Old Testament is based on mercy and the law (Mosaic Covenant) as those are connected. However, the New Testament and the world that we are living in today, is based on grace in the Lord Jesus. This does not mean that there was no grace in the Old Testament, or vice versa. However, grace is better than the law and mercy, because the law was only a shadow of things to come, and by it, the sins were not taken away, but were instead remembered (Hebrews 10 1-4). However, with the grace of God, also came the new covenant, with the Spirit that gives life, unlike the law which killed (2 Corinthians 3:6).
Because of Jesus Christ and the period of grace that preceded his coming, we shall not be lacking (Psalm 23:1), our needs are taken care of (Philippians 4:19) and because God the Father did not spare His Son for us so that we may have eternal life, we also will be given all things freely (Romans 8:32).
I pray that we shall receive grace and mercy from God to guide us and be a lamp to us (Psalm 119:105), in every area of our lives that may displease him or that is lacking in the Name of Jesus.