Grace Foul & Mercy Rule

Girl at BatDuring the season of church softball, I enjoy having extra mercy and grace. We get a grace foul, which I need since I usually hit down the third base line. We also have a mercy rule when a team scores more than 15 points over another team, and this helps when playing teams with lots of young players who have serious softball experience.

But you only get one grace foul, and the mercy rule means one team triumphed while another was, well, humbled. Mercy and grace in church softball illustrate the contrast between how man doles out grace and mercy and how God does.

Man often places limits on grace and bases mercy on what is fair or reasonable. This does not reflect God’s view of grace and mercy.

Mercy means we don’t get what we deserve when we mess up. It also involves having compassion when hurt & offended. God tells us we are to…

  1. Love mercy. (Micah 6:8)
  2. Show mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
  3. Be merciful. (Luke 6:36)
  4. Receive mercy. (1 Timothy 1:2)
  5. Seek mercy. (Hebrews 4:16)

Grace means getting what we don’t deserve. It means reaching out to others in a way they don’t deserve. Looking to God as the example (Exodus 34:6-7 & Psalm 86:15), we see that grace involves being…

  1. Slow to anger.
  2. Rich in love.
  3. Forgiving.
  4. Faithful.
  5. Full of truth.

Unfortunately, showing grace and mercy become difficult amidst hurt feelings and wounded pride. They become difficult when your kid does exactly what you’ve told him 100 times not to do. Grace becomes hard when your family once again fails to support you. And mercy doesn’t come easily when another Christian offends you or when you suffer because of another’s poor choices.

How can we overcome these strong emotions that only create drama and lead to regret when we fail to extend mercy and grace?

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)

We overcome the flesh with its intense emotions by clinging to Jesus. He knows our weaknesses because He experienced them. We can trust the One who places no limits on grace and mercy for those who turn to Him.

Jesus alone makes us able to love mercy, show mercy and be merciful. He alone makes receiving and seeking mercy possible. He will give us the grace and mercy we need for ourselves and plenty more for us to extend – without limits – to others.

Only by spending time with Him regularly – soaking up mercy and grace – can we hope to be able to give mercy and grace to others. Consider the words of Psalm 103 to gain perspective on the mercy and grace He so abundantly gives.

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (vv 1-5)

The more I take in His mercy and grace, the more I realize the necessity of giving it out too. How can I not, knowing what I deserve that I don’t get and what I get I don’t always deserve? Knowing what He did for my salvation and what He’s done for me since then, how can I keep grace and mercy only for myself?

DISCUSSION: How do you see grace and mercy working in your life? In what ways can you grow in grace and mercy.

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On another note, my good friend Rick at Planned Peasanthood and I have a challenge for you to think on and respond to – either by contacting us through our blog comment areas or by email (here for me, and here for Rick). Here’s the challenge: We recently both blogged about silence as a discipline in a joint effort to thoroughly cover the topic. (My posts in the series are The Discipline of Silence, Part I and Part II, and they will lead you to Rick’s series.) The project was so enjoyable and we think beneficial in many ways, that we’d like to do something similar again. So, here’s your part. What topic would you like to see us take up next as a joint blogging project? We will pool the answers and report back what you chose for us, and then coordinate our schedule accordingly. Thank you for your input!

17 thoughts on “Grace Foul & Mercy Rule

  1. Hi Kari, really enjoyed this one. Why not do a joint post on grace or consider listening. It would be a follow up to silence. Because in the silence we have time to listen to God. What you said about getting what we don't deserve and not getting what we deserve is SO true! Praise be to God. I am afraid I would need a lot of grace if I were to even try to play ball again. lol.

    • I'm glad, Mary. Good ideas to write on grace and/or listening. I'll pass those along to Rick. I'm amazed at the variety of women who play ball. One lady on the opposing team the other night needed both hips (may have been knees) replaced, and she couldn't really run, but she played anyway and did HER best. That's what I love… seeing women do THEIR best, whatever that is. Win or lose really doesn't matter to me. Just doing our best and having fellowship.

  2. Your post hits me right between the eye…mercy and grace. If there was ever two areas in life that God has to work the most it's in these two areas, showing mercy and grace.

    I don't play baseball but I can sit in the stands and yell like crazy for everyone. Good post. Whatever you and Rick decide to write on I will cheer you on.

  3. My family always reminds me of my need for grace and mercy. It seems that in a family you're either giving grace and mercy to someone or receiving it. If you're not doing one or the other then you'll probably run into problems.

    • That is SO true, Caleb! Families are practice arenas and proving grounds for grace & mercy. If it's not constantly happening, usually means something needs adjusted. Great point!

  4. So…a softball playing momma. 🙂 Just needed to raz you a bit. As for the post, I do think we tend to limit God's grace way too much. We say we don't but then hold in judgment someone who has fallen as though they are a leper. They might need to step down, or be disciplined, or offer an apology, but grace extends to all. i cannot even BEGIN to number the times grace and mercy has been shown to me by God and by others.

    • Well, I sure try anyway! Raz away… I can handle it 🙂 We definitely limit God's grace, which doesn't make sense considering how much He extends to each one of us. And, He has a LONG history of extending that grace. I'm definitely glad He doesn't keep track!!!

  5. From time to time I think on that verse Hosea 6:6 "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." I think God wants us to be people who extend mercy to others; who recognize the mercy we have gotten and make it a part of who we are. He does not see interested in us giving up things but more in us being a merciful person.

  6. Love this statement: "We overcome the flesh with its intense emotions by clinging to Jesus." The grace and mercy of are so limitlessness that it's beyond comprehension. Which makes me a lucky man because I need a lot of God's grace and mercy in my life. Great thoughts today!

  7. I've been thinking about the command to build each other up in the body lately, and I think grace and mercy is one of the essential ingredients of building others up. When we fail to give mercy, we discourage people. When we reach out in grace, we encourage them.

  8. Pingback: Saturday Shortcuts | Planned Peasanthood

  9. I would say that the ONLY way we can show mercy and grace to others is to first be won over and amazed by the grace and mercy shown to us. The more we are in awe and humbled by God's grace and mercy to us, the more it will naturally flow from our lives to us.

    • Again, another principle being put in front of me a lot lately. Love God more. Get to know Him more. When we do this – the greatest commandment – the second part of that commandment flows naturally… we won't be able to help ourselves.

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