The words mercy and grace are often synonymous with one another, but the fact is they are 2 totally different words and actions. We will be exploring the biblically defined differences of mercy vs. grace and how they are necessary to lead our Christian walk.

Mercy Defined

Mercy is defined as combining the virtues of the following;

  • forgiveness
  • love
  • compassion
  • tenderness.

The Greek meaning Eleos (meaning mercy), is derived from the term olive oil, which is used to treat wounds, sooth, comfort, and heal.

The Hebrew meaning Hesed (mercy) means steadfast love.

We see the book of Proverbs use this word;

Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

Proverbs 28:13 NIV

Grace Defined

Grace is defined in biblical terms as, God’s spontaneous, unexpected gift ,God’s favor or help, unearned. The Greek meaning Khen is defined as to have pity on, show compassion or be merciful.

The Hebrew word for grace, Racham, means to love or have compassion.

We see the book of Ephesians use this word;

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

Why Grace and Mercy Matter

Through an understanding of the biblical definitions of mercy and grace, we can gain knowledge of what God has instructed us to believe.

When we believe and have faith in His words and teachings, we may then go forward into the world, teach others what it means to be a Christian, and love unconditionally.

Our words, conduct, and empathy show others how to live joyfully.

The Difference between Mercy and Grace

So, what is the difference between mercy and grace as it applies to our everyday lives?

Mercy by biblical definition shows a loving, compassionate, tender undertone to all the works we do. Imagine giving steadfast love to all those we encounter throughout our lives, those who do not share our beliefs and understanding of critical issues.

We are commanded by God to act accordingly to Psalms.

“The Lord is merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Psalms 103:8 ESV

While grace by biblical definition is a spontaneous gift from God and unexpected, a favor from God that is not earned. For a Christian to live gracefully means we continually forgive without judgment.

“…Bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Colossians 3:13 NAS

We freely give these unexpected gifts and love to all people, no matter their differing beliefs, argumentative behaviors, lack of empathy, or morality.

Grace and Mercy Hand in Hand

Why do mercy and grace matter so much to us?

The act of mercy and the act of grace can be two separate gestures. However, while using both mercy and grace to live out a Christian life, we are emulating all the teachings in the Bible. We have a map, or an outline, of how to conduct ourselves as Jesus did while He was on earth.

Can grace and mercy truly function autonomously?  I would have to say “No”.

These concepts are so enmeshed that they naturally complement each other. Mercy is doing a compassionate act for someone in need. Grace is given without reciprocation, unconditionally. Being merciful and granting grace align with God’s desire for Christians to follow His word in truth.

“But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” 

John 3:21 NIV

Your Grace and Mercy

So, the next time you engage in conversation with someone of differing opinions, practice patience with them by withholding the very first response that comes to your mind.

Reflect for a moment on the biblical definitions of mercy and grace.

Ask yourself how using these concepts in your responses could bring a Christian tone to your conversation. Then imagine how your words will show them your values and respect.

The challenge for you is out there. Put your knowledge to use in all your words and actions to the glory of God.

Devotion Written By

<a href="" target="_self">Stacey Asbury</a>

Stacey Asbury

Graduated with a bachelor's degree from St. Louis Christian College and Masters's level courses from Lincoln Christian Seminary and UMSL. Retired from the Missouri Department of Corrections. Currently residing in Mid-Missouri and a Beta Reading vendor for Christian Writers Sanctuary.

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