I recently had an internal discussion with myself on the difference between grace and mercy and never came to a conclusion. So I looked it up. According to gotquestions.org :
“Mercy and grace are often confused. While the terms have similar meanings, grace and mercy are not the same. To summarize the difference: Mercy is God not punishing us as our sins deserve, and grace is God blessing us despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Mercy is deliverance from judgment. Grace is extending kindness to the unworthy.”
I don’t know about you, but I need both. Or maybe I need mercy, but I enjoy grace. Thank you Lord for both. Do I extend both? When should I extend it? Should I ever withhold? When my children were young there were occasional times I did not punish them as they deserved, but more often as a conscientious parent I had to provide consequences for misbehavior. So was I merciful? Or are consequences separate from mercy? Maybe parenting is an exempt category…sometimes. Why do I end up with more questions than answers?
As an adult working with other adults, I do try to extend mercy and grace to others. Goodness knows, I need it from them. I think God has a great sense of humor and shows this to me often. If I comment on someone else making a typo or careless mistake in an email, it never fails that just as I hit send on my next correspondence, I see a huge glaring error. If I complain about someone being late or forgetting a meeting, then guess what happens to me? Yep, I am delayed or completely forget to attend. So it is easy for me to extend grace and mercy to those around me who have the same shortcomings I do.
But wait– if I go back and read the definition I supplied earlier, neither of those are grace or mercy. I am not in a position to punish people anyway so mercy is not in my realm and if grace is extending kindness to the unworthy, then maybe I was being kind, but are they unworthy? I think not.
So now I am more confused than when I started, and maybe you are too. I think I will write my own definitions. (Just call me Webster.) When I extend grace and/or mercy to others, my definition of what I am doing is simply going to be treating others as I want to be treated. I think if we all did that, the world would be….golden.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)