The mercy and grace of God are two attributes deeply rooted in His eternal, infinite, and unchangeable nature. God’s mercy and grace are facets of, and natural outworkings of, His love. Because of God’s love for us, He desires our ultimate good. The full expression of this love is shown through His mercy and grace as He tends to the brokenhearted by giving us spiritual life and taking our iniquities upon Himself (1 Peter 1:3). In His mercy, God withholds giving us what we rightly deserve (just condemnation), and in His grace gives us something we do not deserve (salvation by grace through faith).
The Mercy of God
God’s justice requires that evil be punished—that each one gets what is owed to him. God also has the power and authority to punish evil. Through His mercy, God confronts the reality of human suffering and guilt. In His forbearance, He delays the judgment we rightly deserve so that we might turn to Him and be healed. David was well acquainted with God’s mercy:
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:13)
David echoed this message in another psalm:
The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9)
The mercy of God has to do with His tenderheartedness, patience, and loving compassion for His people. In the New Testament, God’s mercy is shown through Jesus as He expresses pity and concern for the people and their needs:
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
The Grace of God
Coextensive with God’s mercy is His grace. Just as God has always dealt mercifully toward people, He has also always provided grace. The grace of God has to do with the fact that He does not deal with people according to their merit or worthiness, but instead according to their need. God provides. God’s grace means He provides for the needy and spiritually dead that which they do not deserve and cannot attain for themselves.
Our relationship with God is restored only because of His grace. As Paul writes in Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (2:8–9).
Because of God’s grace and mercy, those who believe in Him have peace, not enmity and hostility, with our Lord; we’re reconciled to Him. As recipients of God’s grace and mercy, we should extend the same grace and mercy to others. We should faithfully steward the grace God has given to us (1 Peter 4:10) and be ever diligent to return to the throne of grace for our own needs (Hebrews 4:16).
God’s mercy and grace are prevalent in both the Old and New Testaments. Consider reading and meditating on Lamentations 3:19–24, Ephesians 1:6–7, 2:8–9, and Titus 3:5–7 to aid in your further contemplation of God’s mercy and grace.
This study is based on A. W. Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy and J. I. Packer’s Knowing God.
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