Grace vs. Mercy

Image result for grace and mercy

In a recent Bible study of the Book of Job, the question arose as to the difference between God’s mercy and God’s grace.

A word study of the definitions of both those terms may lead one to believe that they both mean one and the same thing. Although there are similarities, there are some major differences.

Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 defines grace as:

1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace.

2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.

Whereas mercy is defined as:

1. That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.

 

In simpler terms,” grace is God giving us something we do not deserve; while mercy is God not giving us something we do deserve.” [in a punishment sense] (Compelling Truth )

Rom 5:15 But, not as the offence so also is the free gift; for if by the offence of the one the many did die, much more did the grace of God, and the free gift in grace of the one man Jesus Christ, abound to the many;

Rom 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Law, but under grace. 

Grace has often been defined as “unmerited favour”, meaning that we have done nothing to earn or deserve it.

Rom 11:6 But if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it is of works, then it is no more of grace; otherwise work is no more work. 

 

Mercy basically means that God does not give us “our just desserts” – or the punishment we deserve when we have done something that we shouldn’t have or not done something we should have.

Psa 103:10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
Psa 103:11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is His mercy toward those who fear Him.

Eph. 2:4,5 His great love with which He loved us, (even when we were dead in sins)


The apostle Paul says this about himself and the mercy extended to him:

1Ti 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who strengthened me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry–
1Ti 1:13 the one who before [as Saul] was a blasphemer and a persecutor and insolent. But I obtained mercy, because being ignorant, I did it in unbelief.

 

Grace and mercy are two important aspects of God’s character.

Psa 86:15 But You, O God, are God full of pity, and gracious, long-suffering, and rich in mercy and truth.

Psa 103:8 Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and rich in mercy.

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us
Eph 2:5 (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved),
Eph 2:6 and has raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus,

 

I pray that you will acknowledge God’s mercy and accept His grace in your life.

2Jn 1:3 Grace will be with you, mercy and peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

Blessings

(Image credit: “56: Daily Inspirational Bible Verse” by Tito & Eva MarieBalangue (CC BY 2.0) via Pediaa.Com)

Advertisements

ALS

May is also ALS Awareness Month. ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is 100% fatal. It may be more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Recently, my women’s fellowship group watched a DVD series entitled Ed’s Story. The series tells the wonderfully moving story of Pastor Ed Dobson’s battle with ALS. The series’ discussion questions provoked some deep and wonderful discussion and sharing within our small group. I highly recommend this DVD series.

Our church family includes someone who has recently been diagnosed with ALS so watching this series was particularly poignant and applicable.

For more ALS information and support, please check out the following websites.

ALS Canada

ALS Association

Blessings

Seeing Red

Image result for red lemon

May is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month. As I am a bladder cancer survivor, I wanted to share the following information:

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada with close to 9,000 new cases every year. It ranks number 4 in men and number 12 in women. Caught early, the prognosis is excellent for most people. Caught late, it can be a life-altering or life-ending disease. Once diagnosed, lifetime urology checkups will be required.”

Blood in the urine is the most common sign of bladder cancer.

If you see red – see your Doctor!

For more information check out Bladder Cancer Canada website.

(Image from Bladder Cancer Canada website by Elixir Marketing)

Blessings

A Tolerant Intolerant God

Tolerance is a hot topic today, in the news, on the streets, in the schools, in the workplace and even in church. But what, exactly, does tolerance mean? Is our God a tolerant God? And as Christians, towards what or whom are we to have tolerance?

The dictionary defines Tolerance as:  The power or capacity of enduring; or the act of enduring.

To me, the defining term “enduring” means “to put up with”, as in I am enduring chronic pain and fatigue.

If  “putting up with” is a correct understanding, then I would say that yes, God is indeed a tolerant God. He, in His great mercy,  has certainly been “putting up with” humanity’s foolishness, selfishness, hard-heartedness, and wickedness. A big “BUT” is added here though because while God has been, and continues to be, very tolerant, He is only tolerant up to a point. And He will only remain tolerant for a little while longer before He releases His judgment and righteous wrath upon unrepentant mankind.

If you still don’t believe that God is tolerant, the following terms are synonymous with the word “enduring”:

ageless, continuing, dateless, abiding, eternal, everlasting, immortal, imperishable, lasting, ongoing, perennial, perpetual, timeless, undying

Along with the following related words:

ceaseless, endless, permanent, changeless, constant, stable, stationary, steady, unchanging, unwavering

If you read the Bible, you will notice that most of the above terms have been used to describe the character and person of God.

Deu 33:27 The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

Gen 21:33 And Abraham planted a tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of Jehovah, the everlasting God.

Exo 34:6 And Jehovah passed by before him and proclaimed, Jehovah! Jehovah God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,
Exo 34:7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,

Eph 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us…

Another definition of tolerance is: capacity to endure pain or hardship :  endurance, fortitude, stamina

I am sure that God endured emotional pain and hardship when He watched His Son, Jesus Christ, tortured and hung on a cross. And, I think God endures emotional pain and hardship when He watches His beloved creation, Mankind, make wrong and harmful choices over and over again.

Jesus Christ certainly endured pain and hardship during the entire episode of His trial and execution.

Isa 53:4 Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Isa 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was on Him; and with His stripes we ourselves are healed.

As the Son of God, Jesus had the Kingdom of God at his command yet he chose to tolerate and endure, with fortitude and stamina, what Man did to him, for the sake of Mankind.

Mat 26:39 And He went a little further and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.

Php 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Having looked at the definition of tolerance and tolerant, along with Scripture, I do believe that God is a tolerant God.

HOWEVER, as I stated earlier, I also believe that God’s tolerance can only go so far. Because He is holy and His very character is righteousness and justice, He can not tolerate disobedience, sinfulness, wickedness, evil, injustice and unrighteousness to continue in Creation. God must, and will, put an end to all evil.

To tolerate evil is to deny justice. God unleashes his full wrath on evil because he’s good. If good tolerated evil, it would cease to be good. Refusal to tolerate sin, then, is an essential part of loving others well.” (Melissa Kruger, The Gospel Coalition)

That He has tolerated it for so long, so that His plan of eternal salvation may be available to as many as who will accept it, shows His great love and mercy.

Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

Joh 1:12 But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, …

Rom 2:4 Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, and the forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

It is very interesting to note that the terms “tolerant” and “tolerance” are not to be found in the Bible. Perhaps that is because God knew that Mankind would misunderstand and misappropriate their meanings; that Man would use them to mean that we are to accept whatever way in which someone chooses to live their life. I often hear the following phrases, “whatever floats your boat”, “whatever makes you happy”, “different strokes for different folks”, “as long as it isn’t hurting anyone”, etc., etc.

God does NOT say “Whatever you want to do, however you want to live your life, is okay by me”.

God does say:

1Co 10:31 Therefore whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Php 4:8 Finally, my brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there is any virtue and if there is any praise, think on these things.

There are things of which God is intolerant.

God is intolerant of sin and evil.

Isa 1:4 Woe, sinful nation, a people heavy with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, sons who corrupt! They have forsaken Jehovah; they have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger; they have gone away backward. 

Isa 1:16 Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes; cease to do evil;

God is intolerant of wickedness.

Deu 28:20 Jehovah shall send on you cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings by which you have forsaken Me. 

God is intolerant of the worship of other/false gods.

Exo 20:3 You shall have no other gods before Me

Exo 34:14 For you shall worship no other god. For Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God

God is intolerant of hypocrisy.

Mat 23:25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of extortion and excess.

God is intolerant of greediness and selfishness.

Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should not walk from now on as other nations walk, in the vanity of their mind,…

Eph 4:19 For they, being past feeling, have given themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

Luk 9:23, 24 And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, …

God is intolerant of injustice.

Eze 18:24 But when the righteous turns from his righteousness and does injustice, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked do, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be remembered; in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them he shall die

2Pe 2:9 The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust for a day of judgment, to be punished,

God is intolerant of unrighteousness.

Deu 25:16 For all that do such things, all that do unrighteousness, are hateful to Jehovah your God

Because God is loving and merciful, He has tolerated the ongoing sinfulness of unrepentant Mankind. God wants to give as much time as He can to as many people as possible to accept His plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. But God also knows that there will come a time when it will no longer be possible for Him to allow the wickedness to continue, and so He will destroy all who practice evil and wickedness.

2Th 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the breath of His mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming, …

Rev 11:18 And the nations were full of wrath, and Your wrath came, and the time of the judging of the dead, and to give the reward to Your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to the ones fearing Your name, to the small and to the great, and to destroy those destroying the earth. 

So what does this mean for Christians? How are we to respond to the topic of tolerance as it is viewed by the world today?

The Apostle Paul was led by holy spirit to write some very good advice in the Book of Romans.

Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God.

Rom 12:9 Let love be without hypocrisy, shrinking from evil, cleaving to good;
Rom 12:10 in brotherly love to one another, loving fervently, having led one another in honor.
Rom 12:11 As to diligence, not slothful, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
Rom 12:12 rejoicing in hope, patient in affliction, steadfastly continuing in prayer,
Rom 12:13 distributing to the needs of the saints, pursuing hospitality.
Rom 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless, and do not curse.
Rom 12:15 Rejoice with rejoicing ones, and weep with weeping ones;
Rom 12:16 minding the same thing toward one another, not minding high things, but yielding to the lowly. Do not be wise within yourselves.
Rom 12:17 Repay no one evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Rom 12:18 If it is possible, as far as is in you, being in peace with all men.
Rom 12:19 not avenging yourselves, beloved, but giving place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”
Rom 12:20 Therefore if your enemy hungers, feed him. If he thirsts, give him drink. For in so doing you shall heap coals of fire on his head.
Rom 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

I think that Melissa Kruger summarized the issue well when she wrote about Christians and tolerance:

Loving people well doesn’t mean we must embrace the choices they make. It means we openly welcome and embrace all who come into our lives with a heart of understanding and the message and hope of the gospel. We love people well when we call them out of sin into relationship with King Jesus. It may not be the world’s definition of tolerance, but it’s the truest way to love.”

Dear God, help me to be as tolerantly intolerant as You.

Blessings