The power of grace and mercy

grace

Imagine you were pulled over by a cop for a traffic offense. You were guilty. You knew the penalty, the punishment. But wait. The officer turns to you, advises you to be mindful about traffic laws, and lets you off the hook. Just like that. It happened to me.

If something like that ever happened to you, then you’ve been a recipient of mercy. You were let off the hook, when you didn’t deserve it.

Mercy is when you don’t receive what you deserve: punishment.

Maybe you haven’t received mercy for civil law breaking, but if you’ve given your heart to Jesus, then you have met the God who is ‘rich in mercy’ (Ephesians 2:4). What did He do? He let you off the hook when you didn’t deserve it. Paul wrote:

“He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:5, NLT).

Grace: Even better than mercy

Instead of punishing and giving us what we deserve (Romans 6:23), He saved us from the punishment. That’s mercy. Isaiah said it this way:

“He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5, ERV).

Mercy is not cheap. It is expensive because it costed His Son’s life to set us free. And while, mercy is good news, just wait till you hear about Grace. Grace is much more than mercy.

Here’s the difference.

Mercy is when you don’t receive what you deserve: punishment.

But grace is when you receive what you don’t deserve: reward.

Do you get the difference? Read it again until you’ve figured it out.

What grace and mercy look like

Here’s a few examples of grace and mercy in action:

The prodigal son received mercy when the father accepted him. Grace when he threw him a party.

The thief on the cross received mercy when he experienced forgiveness. Grace when Jesus promised Him paradise.

We received mercy when God saved us from the punishment for our sins. Grace when He gave us eternal life (1 John 5:11); made us sons and daughters (John 1:12), and reserved an inheritance for us for eternity (1 Peter 1:4).

Mercy and Grace are amazing. That’s why we sing so many songs about them!

Not only is grace amazing. It is also the central theme in the Bible. It is about a gracious God who pursues, came for us, cared for us, and is coming again for us.

This is Amazing Grace

Here’s a few ways the Bible describes the grace of God:

Grace is God’s gift to me: “All of us need to be made right with God by His grace, which is a free gift through Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:24, NCV)

Grace is for everyone: “For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people” (Titus 2:11, NLT).

Grace comes through Jesus: “For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, NIV).

Grace is received by faith: “God saved you by his grace when you believed.” (Ephesians 2:8, NLT).

Grace is God’s gift for all eternity: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

Grace is God’s gift of forgiveness: “But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of forgiveness to many through this other man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:15).

Grace is God’s power to change: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16).

The power to save a wretch like me … and you

Yes, grace changes people. The apostle made it clear that the gospel of His grace and mercy is intended to turn people to God and from their sins (Romans 2:4). Grace not only forgives; it changes, transforms, rewires everyone who enters into a relationship with Jesus.

There is more. When grace happens, gratitude happens.

‘And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory’ (2 Corinthians 4:15)

You can live a life of gratitude to God, not because of anything you did, but because of what He did for you. If you have put your trust in His Son to save you, He says He has given you life, and has saved you:

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Like to thank God for His mercy and grace? Here’s what you can do:

  • Make a list of your grace and mercy experiences.
  • Talk with God over the list, and thank Him for each blessing
  • Share your experiences with your friends, and spread the joy
  • Keep the list, add to it and return to it when you need to remember His goodness
  • Praise God for His mercy! Praise God for His grace!
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Is your God narrow?

Boss

I served a boss who took a genuine interest in the well-being of every employee under him.

He cared about our vocational well-being: motivated us, and fought for our promotions.

He cared about our financial well-being: shared with us financial wisdom from his life experiences, and advised us to spend wisely.

He cared about our relational well-being. Didn’t hesitate to grant us leave. Encouraged us to leave home early so that we can enjoy time with family.

People care about us, but God even more. When we gave our hearts to Jesus, He began a good work in every area of our life. Jesus said it this way:

“My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10, TLB).

Some of us have a very narrow view of God. To us, God only enters the picture when it comes to church or religion. But the truth is, God is interested in every area of our life: Spiritual. Mental. Emotional. Relational. Financial. Vocational.

His word teaches us how he blesses and how we can become healthy in every area of our life.

Spiritually healthy

Here are a few habits you need to develop to be spiritually healthy. It starts with you knowing that Jesus loves you, and He is your Savior:

  1. Know that He loves you: We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19).
  2. Love Him supremely: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30, NLT).
  3. Meet Him daily: “Joyful are those who listen to me, watching for me daily” (Proverbs 8:34).
  4. Study and obey His word: “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).
  5. Love others unconditionally: “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34).
  6. Serve others unselfishly: “Use your freedom to serve one another in love” (Galatians 5:13).
  7. Spread the good news freely. “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

Physically healthy

Here are a few reasons why God cares about your physical well-being:

  1. Your body is His property: “For we are God’s masterpiece” (Ephesians 2:10).
  2. You are connected to Christ’s body: “Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 6:15).
  3. The Holy Spirit resides in your body: “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in[a] you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
  4. Jesus bought your body on the cross: “God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
  5. He wants you to be healthy: “Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit” (3 John 1:2).

Mentally healthy

Speaking of mental health, God says:

  1. Guard your mind: “A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash” (Proverbs 15:14).
  2. Examine your thoughts:The human heart is the most deceitful of all things..” (Jeremiah 17:9); “Examine yourselves to see whether you’re in the faith; test yourselves…” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  3. Renew your mind daily by His word: “..Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think..” (Romans 12:2).
  4. Never stop growing and learning: “Those who get wisdom do themselves a favor, and those who love learning will succeed” (Proverbs 19:8, NCV).

Emotionally healthy

God says He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, NLT). Many people have hurts and wounds, but God says He wants to heal them:

  1. Reveal and confess your hurts to God so that he can heal you: I kept very quiet…but I became even more upset. I became very angry inside, and as I thought about it, my anger burned” (Psalm 39:2-3, NCV).
  2. Release those who have hurt you and trust God to do what is right:Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God..” (Romans 12:19, NLT).
  3. Replace those old lies you believed with God’s truth:Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2).
  4. Reach out to help others who are hurting:He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Relationally healthy

Relationships matter to Him. He counsels:

  1. Choose friends wisely:The righteous choose their friends carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
  2. Be genuinely interested in others:Unfriendly people care only about themselves..” (Proverbs 18:1, NLT).
  3. Have a cheerful spirit:Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you” (Philippians 2:14).
  4. Be a good listener:Be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19).
  5. Accept people unconditionally:Accept one another…just as Christ accepted you” (Romans 15:7).
  6. Help people feel appreciated:Take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10).
  7. Be understanding:Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
  8. Stick with them in tough times:There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).

Financially healthy

Speaking of financial well-being, His word says:

  1. Trust God as your provider:Everything comes from him…” (Romans 11:36).
  2. Put Him first in your money:The purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives” (Deuteronomy 14:23, TLB).
  3. Save and invest:The wise man saves for the future, but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” (Proverbs 21:20).
  4. Set up plans to pay debt:Let no debt remain outstanding” (Romans 13:8, NIV).
  5. Have a budget for spending:Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5, NLT).
  6. Be happy with what you have:Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have” (Ecclesiastes 6:9).

Vocationally healthy

His counsel on your vocational well-being:

  1. Know that God is your real boss:Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people” (Colossians 3:23)
  2. Work enthusiastically:Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart” (Colossians 3:23, NIV).
  3. Know that God uses difficult circumstances to build your character: For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:3).
  4. Care about your work colleagues:Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4).
  5. Exceed expectations:Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best” (Colossians 3:22, MSG).
  6. Expand your skills and learn continually:Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed” (Ecclesiastes 10:10, NLT).
  7. Commit your work for God’s purposes:Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).

God cares about every area of your life because you are His child. If it matters to you, it matters to Him. Sometimes we have a narrow view of our heavenly Father’s concerns for our life.

He says I want to bless and change every area of your life.

Loving others like Jesus loves us

Love

Jesus wants us to love each other but He is particular about how we do it. He said:

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (New Living Translation, John 13:34).

Jesus wants us to love others not according to the way the world loves, but in the same way He loved us. The standard of love toward each other is the way God loved us through Jesus.

To understand this standard of love, we need to see how Jesus loved us. There are a lot of examples in the Bible, but we will look at a few.

One of the ways Jesus loved us was by choosing to love us long before we existed. Peter wrote:

God chose him as your ransom long before the world began…’ (1 Peter 1:20).

Long before you were born, long before you committed a single mistake, Jesus loved you and chose to be your saviour.

Jesus showed this kind of love toward his disciples while on earth. When he knew Judas was going to betray him, He showed His love for Judas by washing his feet. He did the same for Peter, when he knew Peter was going to deny Him and forsake Him.

What Jesus did for his disciples, He did for you and me? Paul wrote:

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners’ (Romans 5:8).

God through Jesus showed his great love how? While we were of no use to him whatsoever, while we were not deserving, while we were rebelling. Moreover, Jesus didn’t just tell us He loves us, He showed his great love by taking the punishment for our sins (Isaiah 53:6).

Such is the love of Christ, the standard, the magnitude, the height and depth of His love. Only when we understand this standard of love, though not fully (Eph. 3:19), we can do the same for others. Paul wrote:

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others’ (Colossians 3:13).

You can love one another, and have a forgiving spirit, not because they are deserving, but because Jesus loved you, and forgave you.

Another way Jesus loved us was by accepting us just we are. Paul wrote:

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory” (Romans 15:7).

Jesus accepted us with all our guilt, imperfections, past mistakes. It doesn’t mean he approved everything we did, but He accepted us completely. He did this to show his love, forgive us and change us to be like Him. But first, He accepted us just as we are.

When you know God has accepted you completely, you can accept others. This doesn’t mean you approve everything everybody does, but you accept them in the same way Christ accepted you.

There are other ways Jesus loved us, but here’s my final point. He loved us by highly valuing us. Jesus said we are very valuable to Him.

And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows” (Luke 12:7).

Two things make something valuable. First, value depends on who made it. Second, value depends on the price someone will pay.

We are extremely valuable because we are not an accident, but the Almighty God himself fashioned us.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10)

We are also valuable because of the price Jesus paid.

For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And it was not paid with mere gold or silver, which lose their value. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Jesus valued us more than his life. That was the price he was willing to pay. Because Jesus did this, we can value, and esteem others better than ourselves (Philippians 2:3).

The secret to loving others is actually receiving God’s love.

We love each other because He loved us first” (1 John 4:19).

Without receiving and experiencing, we can’t love others in the same way Jesus loved us. The Bible is clear, apart from Christ, “our heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

We hear often from our pulpits telling people to put faith into action, love each other, serve each other, be kind to one another, but telling people to do so without telling them they are loved, accepted, forgiven, valued, empowered is like telling people to transfer money without depositing money in their account.

When we are secure in God’s love, we will start making allowance for people’s mistakes. We will be more patient, forgiving, kind, bearing with one another. We will increasingly show grace and mercy to one another because God did the same for us.

The key to obeying Jesus’s command to love others the same way He did is for us to be secure in His love and grace. All this becomes possible, when we are in Christ and Christ is in us. When He is in us, He will come out in our attitudes, actions, and affections.