Thursday, September 29, 2011

Grace and Mercy

Grace and Mercy: Not Getting What We Do Deserve and Getting What We Don’t

We all make mistakes. We all have flaws. The Bible says that “All have fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), which basically means that we don’t measure up to who God is. The Greek word for sin literally means “to miss the mark.” Imagine a bullseye. You obviously are aiming for the center. But in life, we don’t even come close to the mark. That’s why we need Jesus: to bridge the gap between who we are and who God created us to be.

So, what is mercy? Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Because we are sinners, we deserve the absolute consequences of our sin. If you break the law, you deserve the punishment that the laws states you will receive. If you are pulled over for any offense, as mandated by the law of the road, you deserve a ticket. If you hurt someone, you deserve to suffer in that relationship- which sometimes means the relationship ends.

Mercy is when the judge sees that we have no prior records for whatever crime you have committed, and sentencing you to “time served” or when a prosecutor decides to drop the charges issued by his office. Mercy is when he softens the policeman’s heart and we don’t get a ticket, or get our vehicle towed, or have our license revoked (depending on the offense). Mercy is when we don’t get kicked out of our house even though we’ve lied to our parents again.

Sound crazy? It is! Realizing what we actually deserve, can give you a different perspective. Now, let’s get to the other end of things.

Grace. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Grace is not God withholding punishment- it is Him giving us anything at all. We deserve nothing more than a swift kick in the butt a lot of times. But, He can bless us. Just because. Maybe you need a more reliable car, but no money. Maybe you need a better job so that you can pay off your student loans. Or maybe you don’t need anything. Maybe you want something: a new pair of pants, a guitar, for your hair to just look normal for a day (can I get a witness?).

Grace is God providing money (a donation, a commission from work, a gift) so that you can upgrade on the wheels. Grace is God providing a raise for you, even though you are not eligible for another six months. Grace is God providing a random babysitting job so you can afford those cool pants, or a friend who happens to have a guitar they are not using, or maybe allowing one day without humidity so you can rock that blow out.

Grace and mercy look like different things for everyone. What do they look like to you? What is one way that God has shown you mercy, and one way He has shown you grace?

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