What is the Difference Between Mercy and Grace?

What is the difference between mercy and grace

What is mercy and how does it relate to grace? Is mercy the same as grace, or is it something different?

Some people miss grace because they think it grace = mercy. They don’t understand the difference.

“I need mercy.

“Thank you, Lord, for your mercy.

“Now that I have mercy, I’m satisfied.”

And they miss out on the full riches of God’s grace.

What is grace? Grace is the full expression of God’s love for us, but for the sake of keeping things simple, let’s say grace is God’s undeserved favor.

And what is mercy? Mercy is showing compassion towards those in need. Mercy is Jesus healing the blind and delivering the oppressed. Mercy is God forgiving our debts. Mercy is God responding to our cries of distress:

Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me: Lord, be thou my helper. (Ps. 30:10)

If you are in trouble, mercy is what you need. The good news is that God is as rich in mercy as he is in grace. He freely offers his mercy to all for he is the God of all grace and the Father of all mercies (2 Cor. 1:3, 1 Pet. 5:10).

Are mercy and grace the same?

There are some interesting comparisons between mercy and grace in scripture:

  • We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:5), and we are saved by mercy (Tit. 3:5)
  • We are forgiven by grace (Eph. 1:7), and we are forgiven by mercy (Ex. 34:6-7, Ps. 86:5, Matt. 18:33, Luke 1:77-78, Heb. 2:17, 8:12)
  • Just as we receive grace (Rom. 5:17), we receive mercy (2 Cor. 4:1, 1 Pet. 2:10)
  • Just as God’s grace is greater than our sin (Rom. 5:20), his mercy triumphs over judgment (Jas. 2:13)

These similarities lead some to conclude that mercy is synonymous with grace. Yet mercy can be distinguished from grace.

How does grace differ from mercy?

Mercy is not reaping what you have sown; grace is reaping what Jesus has sown.

Mercy takes you out of Egypt; grace takes you into the Promised Land.

Mercy forgave the prodigal son; grace threw him a party.

Mercy fed Ruth the refugee; grace gave her a husband.

Mercy forgave the penitent tax collector; grace sent him home justified before God.

Mercy forgave the thief on the cross; grace took him to paradise.

Mercy is not getting what you deserve, while grace is getting what you don’t deserve.

See the difference? Mercy is great – thank God for mercy! – but grace is even better.

Two angels: Mercy and Grace

Where do we find mercy? In the same place we find grace:

Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

Mercy and grace are like two mighty angels bringing the lost to the Father’s house. They’re a tag team. Mercy goes into the darkest places of the world searching for the broken and the downcast. Mercy gathers the lost in his arms and carries them home to the Father.

At the gate stands the other mighty angel. Grace heals the broken, cleanses the sinner, and clothes the naked, making them fit for the Father’s feast. Thanks to Mercy and Grace, even the worst of us are welcome at the Father’s table.

A bit far-fetched, you say? Well think back to what happened to you.

You came to God on account of some need. Maybe you were sick, lost, hurting, or in despair. Maybe you were fed up or worn out, but Mercy found you and all was well.

But wait, who was standing behind Mercy? There was Grace holding your new robes of righteousness, offering you your Father’s ring, and inviting you to come to the table.

Mercy is what you wanted; Grace is what you got. Never forget that.

Mercy vs grace

God’s goodness is revealed in his great mercy. Whatever your need today, come to his throne and receive mercy.

But don’t stop there, for God’s goodness is greater than you know. Receive his mercy and see what else he offers besides – his grace!

Mercy pays the bills; grace blesses us with an abundance.

Mercy delivers you from servitude; grace adopts you as a son.

Mercy clears your debts; grace makes you a co-heir with Christ.

If you have a great need today, thank God for his abundant grace and mercy!

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If you liked this, you will love Paul’s new Grace Glossary. Learn the language of the new covenant by discovering the treasures hidden within words like grace, faith, and forgiveness.

16 Comments on What is the Difference Between Mercy and Grace?

  1. Larry Wilgus // January 20, 2022 at 2:08 am // Reply

    A Bible scholar indeed. Thank you again for all the revelation you share with fellow believers and the world for those who have ears to hear. Blessings to you. Jamestown, North Carolina USA

  2. Excellent Paul, thank you for the clarity!

  3. The word mercy in the Bible is usually interchangeable with the word compassion. It is the opposite of judgement or condemnation as is seen in some churches. God gives grace out of compassion, so we can come to Him as our loving Father and freely receive grace. When we try to earn grace, we are not acknowledging His mercy.

  4. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. (Forgiveness and Life)
    Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. (Condemnation and Death)

  5. Beautiful! Loved this description and revelation. Thank you so much Paul 😊

  6. Saying grace is undeserved is a prideful affront to the finished work of the cross. The truth is we couldn’t earn it . The groom would never tell his bride she doesn’t deserve his love. The father of lies on the other hand will constantly tell people they don’t deserve the fathers love.

    • Undeserved in the sense you did nothing to merit or earn it. The father of lies would have you believe that God’s love is for sale and his acceptance can be earned. Not true. God loves you because he is a good Father. I have written elsewhere on the meaning of grace.

    • Great explanations of mercy and grace, Paul. It’s always a joy to read your posts. David, I see what you are saying. The cross will forever be the eternal expression of the high value God places on humanity. A value we can scarcely grasp due to, as you say, the barrage of lies seeking to influence our minds. And obviously, as you and Paul both pointed out, God’s love is not earned.

      It helps me to see the issue in the context of identity. It takes the matter of being ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’ off the table. God’s love towards us is not ONLY because he is a loving Father by nature. Our identity actually contributes to the nature of the relationship (apart from our behavior). God’s mercy says to the wayward “You’ve been deceived, you were not meant for this and this is not who you are”. God’s grace says, “THIS is who you are, my beloved, my cherished, my most valued treasure, of EQUAL value in comparison to my Son – see the cross”. Our freedom comes through belief in God’s point of view.

      • Very well spoken Jason. As sons and daughters its important to see ourselves and refer to ourselves as the father recognizes us. Identity theft is a major problem in our world today. From suicide to gender confusion and so on. The father never responds to us talking down to ourselves. He always calls us up. Everyone deserves to hear the truth of the fathers love. If you don’t think you deserve it, there’s a good chance you won’t take the time to share with someone less deserving in your mind.

      • Amen David. Grace and Mercy call us to reorient our minds to our Christ identity and abandon the outdated and irrelevant performance rating system. “Identity theft” indeed. I think seeing ourselves as ‘worthy’ of his goodness and the rightful heirs of his kingdom is simply relating to God on his terms. From our Father’s vantagepoint the overflowing fullness of their trinitarian relationship is our very birthright in Christ. Nevertheless, sadly, we daily set aside the grace of God in favor of conforming to a performance driven world identifying ourselves according to our skin color, or gender (biological or imagined), or income bracket, or religion etc. We fell for the lies that these things get you somewhere and must be pursued. But in Christ, all those attachments count for nothing… liberating us from their stifling bondage to discover our Christ identity and to worship/relate to our Father in spirit and in truth. Mercy and Grace are the wooing of our Great Lover.

  7. Mercy means you do not get what you deserve. Grace means you get what you do not deserve.

  8. Since this is all thankfully true ….with christ in us and as a new creation and united with Christ… shouldn’t others see mercy and grace from us as the world comes at us each day?The world sure could use a good dose of it (-:

  9. Jana Spriggs // January 21, 2022 at 3:36 am // Reply

    Thank you, Mr Ellis, for this post. This really blessed me. Now I clearly see and understand the difference between grace and mercy. Your blog posts are a blessing and a help to me. I’m grateful to God for you and the work that you do. 🙂

  10. Romeo R. Cruz // January 22, 2022 at 9:48 pm // Reply

    Hi! Pastor Paul. I love your new post. Thank you so much. Stay blessed!

  11. For the sake of imagery, I often share that Judgment places a high barb-wire fence around the Swamp of Sin, infested by its disease carrying mosquitoes, and Mankind posts a sign: “This Property is Condemned”
    Mercy only blows away the mosquitoes. Truth arrives, removing “Condemned”, nails a new sign: “Sold—New Owner”. Grace drains the Swamp and creates a lush Garden of Life.
    Mercy stops the immediate pain. Grace heals the cause of the pain.
    Truth guides towards maturity. Mercy and Truth are twins in the family of Grace.

  12. Lawal Michael Jide or Olajide // February 15, 2022 at 2:57 am // Reply

    Great explanation. Mercy and Grace are two inseparable entities like two sides of the same coin. Mercy means you don’t get what you deserve: God’s wrath,judgment, condemnation and eternal damnation-second death. Grace means you get what you don’t deserve: forgiveness of sin, first res, justification, first resurrection, eternal life, sanctification, second resurrection unto eternal life: consummation and culmination of the first resurrection.Thank you, dr Paul Ellis, for the exposition.

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