Grace and Mercy Revisited

Little rant I did on Facebook. I think it’s important, very important. So here it is:

I get so frustrated with how widespread the confusion is between mercy and grace. I’m reading an article on “communities of grace.” It has terrific things to say when it’s talking practically, but it continually uses grace where the right word is mercy.

This leaves no proper understanding of grace. Grace is not the patience to put up with problems in other people. That is MERCY! Grace is the power that comes from God, and not from you, to overcome those problems.

The whole article with so much good advice, written on the topic of grace, completely robs the reader of grace.

“Let’s have mercy on each other while we struggle together to overcome our sins.” That’s the right way to say it because it leaves grace out of that sentence and available to come in and help the situation. I will have mercy on you so that you are not discouraged, and together we can flee to God for grace to overcome the problem that requires me to have mercy on you.

If I’m having grace for you, and grace is nothing but mercy, then what is left to help you?

Grace is power, my brothers and sisters, not forgiveness. Mercy is forgiveness. Grace is incredible, wonderful, saving power that transforms your life and can give you confidence that you do not have to go on sinning!

The article mentions “a strong view of sin and grace.” What does that mean if grace is mercy? What is a “strong” view of sin and mercy? Is it “go ahead and sin, I’ll keep forgiving you”?

I can tell from the article that the author would never endorse such a thing. Clearly he means something different than what I just described. However, with grace portrayed as mercy throughout, “a strong view of sin and grace” is a meaningless statement.

What it should mean is that while we live together in a merciful atmosphere (very important), we encourage, exhort, plead, pray for, rebuke, console, help, watch over and do anything else necessary to keep our siblings in Jesus believing that sin does not have power over them, and to keep them knowing that they can turn their eyes to Jesus in the midst of every temptation and wind up forgetting the temptation and not being drawn away by their own lusts and slain.

Let us bear, even for years. Let us forgive 70×7 times in one day, exercising ever-so-important mercy, but let us not lose hold of grace and the faith to believe that we are not slaves of sin, but those who are washed, who are sanctified, who are made righteous in the name of our Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

  • Understanding Grace (michaeldhatcher.wordpress.com) [Edited note: I include this link because the blog post is good. The person brings up important truths about grace, but even in a post like that mercy has bled into grace. Mercy is never mentioned, and God separating our transgressions from us as far as the east is from the west is given as as example of grace rather than mercy.]
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6 Responses to Grace and Mercy Revisited

  1. Pingback: Actually Petty, and Why the Good Girls are Home with Broken Hearts… | seasonofmartha

  2. paulfpavao says:

    Thanks, Wanda. Good comment.

  3. Wanda Tillman says:

    It is only through the Grace of God that I/we have the strength to be merciful. As humans we tend to be vengeful and retaliatory in relationships, particularly in contentious relationships. That leads us into a downward spiral of worsening and ever more fractious interactions with those around us. With God’s Grace we are able to overcome this human trait and be merciful (which is a God-like character trait) to those who have not been kind to us; it takes Divine Grace (which we certainly do not deserve) to help us be kind and Christ-like in extending Mercy, which we may not deserve but desperately need.

  4. paulfpavao says:

    Miketea: That’s possible. I did a word study only on charis. I had an idea what I might find because James Strong had defined charis as “a divine influence on one’s heart evident in one’s life,” as well as “unmerited favor,” the definition we are all familiar with.

    There’s a saying I like that doesn’t do us much good. It doesn’t seem to bleed over into anyone’s teaching. It goes …

    “Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. Grace is God giving us what we don’t deserve.”

  5. paulfpavao says:

    I should add this note. On Facebook, someone pointed out that Eph. 1:7 says, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” So, including mercy (the forgiveness of sins) among the “graces” God gives us is not wrong.

    I don’t think that invalidates my point. We have changed grace almost completely into mercy and lost most of its meaning. This inaccurate use of grace is widespread, very widespread.

  6. miketea says:

    Interesting comment. Can I suggest a word study might be helpful? chesed, racham, chanan, eleos, charis, chen…

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