Years ago when I played church softball, I enjoyed having extra mercy and grace. We got a grace foul, which I needed since I usually hit down the third base line. We also had a mercy rule to end a game when a team scores more than 15 points over another team.
You only got one grace foul, though, and the mercy rule means one team triumphed handedly while the other was seriously humbled. Mercy and grace in church softball illustrate how man shows them, with limits.
Mercy & Grace
Mercy means we don’t get what we deserve when we mess up. It also involves having compassion when hurt and offended. God tells us we are to:
- Love mercy. (Micah 6:8)
- Show mercy. (Matthew 5:7)
- Be merciful. (Luke 6:36)
- Receive mercy. (1 Timothy 1:2)
- 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 slow to anger, rich in love, forgiving, faithful, and full of truth.
Unfortunately, showing grace and mercy become difficult amidst hurt feelings and wounded pride. They become difficult when your child does exactly what you’ve told him 100 times not to do. Grace becomes hard when your family once again fails to support you. Likewise, 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 and be merciful. He alone makes receiving and seeking mercy possible. He gives 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.
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 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?