The simplest definition of MERCY is “the outward manifestation of pity” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). GRACE has often been defined as “God’s ‘Unmerited Favor.’” In this definition of GRACE we see the word FAVOR, for the two carry the same meaning, though at certain times they are not synonymous for “GRACE is a free gift, FAVOR may be deserved or gained.” We will confine our remarks to MERCY and GRACE.

One was once asked, “What is the main difference between mercy and grace?” He replied, “MERCY is God NOT GIVING US what we deserve; GRACE is God GIVING US what we don’t deserve.” There are verses which teach us that we saved by both mercy and grace. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His MERCY He saved us…” (Titus 2:5…NKJV). “For by GRACE you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). In Ephesians 2:4-5 they are both mentioned, “But God, who is rich in MERCY, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by GRACE you have been saved). When God saves us, He is “showing pity on us” (which is MERCY) by saving us from hell, which is what we deserve. But at the same time God is “showing us favor by showering us with His blessings” (which is GRACE) by granting us forgiveness, justification, eternal life, etc., which is what we don’t deserve.

We have just seen that God saves us by His mercy and grace, but that is just the beginning for we need God’s grace and mercy every day of our lives. When the Apostle Paul wrote letters to churches and individuals he always started and ended them by wishing God’s GRACE upon them. “GRACE to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ….The GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Romans 1:7 & 16:24). Paul knew that believers, who were saved by grace, needed a fresh supply of God’s grace each day to enable them to live the Christian life to the glory of God and for the blessing of men. In other words, he knew that the same grace that fits men for heaven also keeps men from sin and empowers them to live a holy life. This is especially borne out in Titus 2:11-12, “For the GRACE of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” You had asked “How important are mercy and grace in someone’s life?” and here we learn that GRACE is absolutely vital for living “soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”

We have seen that the Apostle Paul begins and ends every epistle by speaking of our need of GRACE. Now we will see that in some of his letters he also mentions the importance of MERCY. In 1st Timothy 1:2 he wrote, “To Timothy, a true son in the faith: Grace, MERCY and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” Why does Paul add the word MERCY to grace and peace to Timothy?  I would like to quote the words of William MacDonald on this: “All of these latter Epistles were written to individuals rather than to churches, and this explains the addition of mercy…MERCY speaks of God’s compassionate care and protection for one who is needy and prone to fail.” We, as individual believers, are WEAK and we often do FAIL. When we do, our blessed God and Father is quick to show MERCY to us. One has said “MERCY is that which is extended to those who have committed great wrong, but have been shown wondrous compassion and forgiven for all of their misdeeds.” We saw at the very beginning that MERCY is “the outward manifestation of God’s pity.” He knows that we are “prone to fail” but He is ready to show mercy to us because He pities us. Psalm 103:13-14 declare: “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” We can surely praise Him for NOT GIVING US WHAT WE DESERVE when we do fail; instead He pities us and is every ready to forgive us. Like we saw with GRACE, we need His MERCY every day to live for His glory.  (424.1)  (DO)