Mercy and Grace

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

Mercy and grace. We hear those words often. They are quite similar, yet different.

Miriam-Webster dictionary defines mercy as:

1a : compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power also : lenient or compassionate treatment

b : imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder

2a : a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion

b : a fortunate circumstance

3 : compassionate treatment of those in distress

It defines grace as:

1a : unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b : a virtue coming from God

c : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance

Years ago one of my ministers explained mercy and grace this way.

We’re speeding down the road and get pulled over by a police officer. We deserve a ticket, but instead, the officer gives us a warning.

That’s mercy.

Not getting what we deserve.

Before the officer leaves the side of our car, however, the officer pulls out two sought-after tickets to our favorite event.

That’s grace.

Getting something we don’t deserve.

Jesus told a parable on mercy and grace in his story about the unforgiving servant.

The servant owed a great deal of money to the king, but begged for mercy when the king ordered the man, his wife, his children, and all he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees begging for mercy, promising to pay back all he owed.

The king in his mercy and grace took pity on the servant and forgave him his debt.

But when the servant left the king’s presence, he came upon an acquaintance who owed him a mere pittance. He demanded the friend pay back the money right away.

The friend begged for mercy, asked for patience, and said he would pay back the debt. The ungrateful servant who had been forgiven much, refused. He had his friend who owed him little thrown into debtor’s prison until the debt was paid.

When the king heard of this, he called the wicked servant to appear before him. He reminded the servant, he expected him to give mercy as he’d been given mercy.

In anger the king turned the servant over to the jailers to be tortured until the servant could repay the enormous debt he owed.

God poured his mercy and his grace upon us when he allowed his son, Jesus, to take on the sins of the world and die in our place. Jesus paid the debt we owed but could never pay.

Just like the king in Christ’s parable, because God has shown us mercy and grace, he expects us to be merciful and gracious to others in return.

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Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.” Matthew 18:32-35 (NLT)

I wish you well.


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