Mercy and Grace – Characteristics of God

We deserve nothing from God. Plain and simple. He created us, gave us life, gave us the air we breath. Growing up I remember hearing mothers say to misbehaving children I brought you into this world and I can take you out. We giggle uncomfortably, hoping it’s a joke. The natural conclusion of believing in a God who spoke the world into creation is that he can speak it into extinction. Every day is a gift.

Real life is often the best teacher of scripture. It opens up my eyes and allows me to put in context stories and words that previously sat flat on the page. It’s allowed me to re-examine stories I thought I knew and find a whole new layer to them. Now that I’m an Army wife and I’ve been through a seperation or two the story of the ten virgins who were awaiting the bridegroom is seen through my lens of awaiting my soldier’s return and it brings forth more layers and complexitites, I find myself questioning their lack of preparedness (see What does an Army Wife and 10 Virgins have in common?). Suddenly in the story of Bathsheba I do not see David as a King, but as a Jody. And Samson’s lust for Delilah as a major OPSEC issue (see The haircut that cost his life).

The army is not always kind on marriages, I’ve seen it break more then I’ve seen it heal. But I’ve also seen it produce some amazing strength. A friend, who I wont devulge for obvious reasons, was betrayed by her spouse. He cheated and was caught. She chose to bestow grace. She choose to pick up the pieces that were left and carefully put them back together. She chose kindness and she chose to bless her marriage by staying. Not by staying and throwing it back in his face, but staying and working hard towards a better marriage, by being kind, forgiving, and being thankful for the man who sought her forgiveness. That is grace. It is forgiveness not deserved but freely given. It is compassion and favor not deserved but given. Grace is a gift.

Ok so I’m supposed to be talking about mercy. But mercy and grace are often confused.

GraceGrace in greek is Charis it can mean. a) grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness.

Mercy in greek is (el’-eh-os) and means pity, compassion, or mercy. The NASB translates it into mercy 25 times and compassion 2 times. So then Mercy is the perfered translation of the Greek word. In the New Testament the Greek word focuses more often on the recepients need for mercy then on the giver of mercy. In the Old Testament, in hebrew, it is racham or hesed. Racham comes from a place of deep love; hesed means lovingkindness. The focus in Hebrew, in the OT, is on the giver of mercy.

Mercy

Mercy is when another friend, going through a divorce, could have lorded over her spouse sins of adultery. She could have harped on the affairs, yelled and belittled him to the children ruining their relationship with their father, dragged his name through the mud, she could have chosen to make his life miserable but instead chose to show him compassion though he deserved her anger and condemnation. She chose instead mercy. She held the power to lord over him in his mistakes and chose not to. She could have caused judgement and consequences beyond just the end of their marriage to rain down on him. But she chose to bestow mercy. It was the next step in grace.

Grace is kindness, it is giving forgivness and blessing another. It is a gift we give to others and a gift we receive from God. Grace is a gift given to someone who does not deserve it. Mercy is the removal of condemnation. It is being in the position of power, with all the justification of bestowing punishment, and choosing instead to show pity. Mercy is grace on steroids. It is a gift given to someone who desperately needs it but deserves the exact opposite.

God is both a God of grace and a God of mercy. The two are not the same but work in conjunction with one another.

 

Read more tomorrow about the difference between grace and mercy and share your story of God’s mercy in the comments below.

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