What Is Grace and Mercy
The Grace and Mercy of God. What a topic. To think of what Grace actually is blows my mind. This is a long post but stick with it til the end. It has a great ending! Here’s the actual Definition of both Grace and Mercy:
Grace. The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
I also found a blog (“Better Than I Deserve”) that describes it as this: (this is what I have always heard)
“Maybe you’ve heard this definition of grace before. Grace is what we get which we do not deserve.”
“Perhaps you have heard this definition of mercy before and I think its spot on. Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve.”
I think that is pretty incredible. Grace. The Grace of God is far beyond my comprehension. Really. He gives us His Grace instead of His judgment. However, there is a catch. Ah Ha, you say…. Yes, there is always a catch. God will only impart His Grace to us … IF … we believe on His Son Jesus Christ and believe that His Son’s death on the cross was for the remission of our sins. Yes, Jesus lived a sinless life and died on the cross for our sins. Then He rose again on the third day and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He did all of that so we could be with Him forever. So, Grace… Grace is what He gives us instead of the judgment that we deserve.
God Is God And We Are Not
You see, if God didn’t give us His Grace, we would have to pay the penalty for our sins and we could never be “good enough” to measure up to God’s Holiness. You say… “But I am a good person. I don’t cheat, steal, lie or kill. So, I am good enough. I don’t sin.” Well, God doesn’t look at it that way. He is the creator of everything. He set the standard of “sin” and “holiness” and we DO NOT measure up to His standard. We may think we don’t sin but we do. There are many things that happen or that we do or dwell on thoughts during the day that God may consider “not holy”. Remember… God is God and we are not! He set the standard. Not man!
He knew we could never measure up to His standard because He created us. You see, to be able to be forgiven for your sins, you have to offer a spotless sacrifice. The Bible has a lot of examples of what sacrifice is acceptable for what sin. In the beginning, people would sacrifice a bull, goat, lamb or even a dove or pigeon, without defect – spotless. There were many ways and reasons people would bring these animals to be sacrificed. However, all were required to be without defect. This link will explain why humans must or had to bring sacrifices to God. The title of the article is “Why did God require animal sacrifices in the Old Testament?“
The Spotless Sacrifice
We, as humans, needed a spotless, perfect sacrifice to cleanse us from our sins – or to have our sins forgiven. Jesus came to earth to be that spotless sacrifice. Jesus agreed to be the spotless lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He left Heaven and became a tiny baby. Lived among the common man and lived perfectly, never sinning. Then He died on that cross, I mentioned earlier, for us.
The Grace He bestowed towards us at the Cross of Calvary is so beyond my comprehension. I guess I don’t have to be able to comprehend it to accept it. Good thing. I do accept God’s gracious gift of Jesus Christ for my sins. If I accept that grace through Jesus Christ then I need to live like it. I want to live like it. I want to live every second knowing that because of God’s Grace I will see His face and live in His wonderful presence forever in Heaven.
I found a quote when I was perusing my files that stopped me in my tracks. I had to read and re-read it and ask myself. “Self, do you really want to be established in God’s Grace? Do you want it to manifest itself in your character? Do you want it to be your habit and regular life?” Here is the quote:
“To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another.”
The Taste of Grace
To me that says this. We taste the Grace of God when we first accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We feel almost like we are walking on a cloud. It is a high that is indescribable. If you truly take Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will experience a feeling that is unlike any other you have ever or will ever experience. You may go for a while and live off of this first excitement of a new life. However, I have learned that human nature (me – I am) is like this… we begin to slip back into “the way we were” before me met Jesus – to a point. As we walk through our daily life we realize one day that we really aren’t living as Christ. We have just tasted the Grace of God but are not really “living” the Grace of God. That is … like the quote says … “to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life…”
To Be Established
So, what does it really mean to be established in God’s Grace and manifest God’s Grace in character, habit and regular life? Well, let me see if I can explain it the way God showed me.
If you read my blog at all you will see that I don’t usually sound “preachy” or pushy. I use every day things that relate to my walk with God and relationship with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. So, this one is not any different. As I am sitting here in my chair and look up at the reflection in the glass of a picture on the wall of my beautiful Shumard Oak tree in the back yard, I hear that ever so familiar voice. “How is your oak tree established?” I begin to immediately think back about this time seven years ago – when we moved in to our home in May of 2009.
The Shumard Oak Tree
We moved in to our home on May 2, 2009. After a few little things that had to be done in the back yard, I was making my rounds and I found a little scrawny oak tree up next to the house in a flower bed. It was about a foot from the house and about a foot tall. I knew that I had to either dig it up and get rid of it or transplant it. If it had stayed that close to the house it would never be the oak tree that it was meant to be. It also would have messed up the house and the foundation of the house with its root system. So, before I uprooted this little tree I had to find the “perfect” spot for it. We have quite a large back yard and it is a hot one in the summer time because there was no tree to shade most of the yard in the hot afternoons. There is the neighbor’s tree on the East side – that didn’t help the afternoon sun at all though. There was a wide open spot between the house and dad’s shed that was in the direct sun and would be perfect for a shade tree.
Transplanting the Oak
Although this little tree was barely big enough to cast a shadow, I knew that someday it would be a nice, proud Oak tree with abundant shade. So, I took my sharp shooter (shovel) and dug a hole and then went to the little tree and carefully dug around
it being careful not to damage any of the roots it may have produced in its small state. I remembered there is a tap root, I thought, that I really had to be careful not to snap. A Tap Root is the main root that goes down from the middle of the tree and stabilizes it and the root system branches off of that. So, I carefully dug and dug and loosened and dug and loosened. Finally I had it loose and only broke the very tip of the Tap Root off.
I prayed that it would not affect the little tree. I took it to the new location that I had prepared with some good dirt – which I call Cow Poop Dirt – that is a very good, rich in nutrition dirt for a newly planted tree or anything else for that matter. This stuff will make hair grow on a bowling ball! It is good stuff.
Anyway, I planted it and waited. That Fall it was still alive and seemed to be thriving in its new location. There were about 5 leaves on the tree and they turned a beautiful red, orange and yellow. I was so excited because if it is that pretty as a youngster how much more beautiful is it going to be as it grows and gets bigger?
Well, God has certainly blessed me with the growth of that little, scrawny tree. It is now about 25’ – 30’ tall (in 7 years) and throws a beautiful shade. Zuckie (my dachshund) and I sit in the grass in the shade of the Oak tree, on a warm evening and are very comfortable. One because of the shade and two because of the lovely, thick St. Augustine grass that is beneath our feet. The tree shade and the grass seem to work in harmony to produce a beautiful place to relax. Needless to say, the Oak tree LOVES the location I chose.
OK, let’s just think a minute about how this parallels with my walk with God. Or anyone’s walk with God for that matter. Let’s also revisit that quote above.
“To taste of the grace of God is one thing; to be established in it and manifest it in character, habit, and regular life, is another.”
The little, scrawny tree, growing up next to the house was tasting life – the Grace of God. But it was not ever going to be able to be established in good soil and a good location to be able to grow and thrive at its present location. It would be stunted because it was too close to the house. It would never be able to spread its limbs and soak up the warm sunshine and produce a beautiful shade for us to enjoy. It would be cramped and uncomfortable. Its limbs, if they ever grew, would be rubbing the brick on the house and never have the freedom to sway in the breeze. If the tree ever grew tall enough, it would run right into the eave of the house and be stunted. It may grow around the eave but then it would be crooked and possibly break because of the crookedness of the limbs. Not to mention the root system. It would run into the house foundation and cause all sorts of problems for the house and the tree itself.
A Broad Space
So, let’s face it. It was a horrible place for the little tree. Then I came along and took that little, scrawny tree from its place where it had begun its life. I moved it to a place with a broad space where it could grow and stretch its limbs and grow its roots deep and wide without being encumbered by anything. It could grow tall and taller and taller and display its beautiful colors in the Fall and the beautiful fresh green leaves in the Spring. It can now throw a shade that is quite nice. The shape of the tree is perfect too. Broad at the base of the limbs and gradually narrows to the peak of the tallest leaf that reaches for the sky. It is one of my pride and joys in my yard. I love to look at the stately Oak. It is only 7 years old now but in years to come it will grow taller and fuller and its roots will go deeper and wider, making it more and more established in the soil beneath its leaves and limbs.
Me and God’s Grace
So you may have forgotten that I was talking about the Grace and Mercy of God. Well, I believe the Grace and Mercy of God is displayed – in a way – in my Oak tree. Let’s revisit those definitions:
“…Grace is what we get which we do not deserve.”
“… Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve.”
Let me compare my Oak tree to myself and my walk with God. I was in a place that was not a good place for me to be in. I was too close to things that would keep me from growing (spiritually) – spreading my branches. I was in a place that would stunt my growth (spiritually) and cause me to grow very crooked and unable to thrive – as God had intended for me (as He does for every one of His children). My root system was growing into hard places and being redirected to a path that was not good for stability and to be firmly established in Him. Everything was simply a mess beneath the surface. If left to my own devices, I would have kept going down a path that was not what God had intended and it was not how it should have been.
God in His infinite Grace and Mercy, picked me up and moved me to a place He chose so I could become established in Him. Sending my roots down deep into the nutrient rich soil of His Mercy. Allowing me to learn to spread my branches and display the beautiful colors of His love in my life.
Now don’t get me wrong. Please DO NOT THINK THAT I AM SAYING that I have “arrived”! As Paul says in Romans 6, “By no means.” Please understand that I know this is all a process. I have been moved, yes, but the establishing and sending my roots down and spreading my branches… that is a day by day and sometime minute by minute process. But I am growing. I have been growing more in the last three or four years than I think I have in my lifetime. I want to grow so others can see Jesus in me without having to go on a search and find mission. I want Jesus to be honored and glorified in my daily life. I can tell you that sometimes… more times than not, He is not. I try, but I am human and He knows it. That is where the wonderful Grace and Mercy comes in again.
Thank You Lord
Thank You Lord, for the Grace and Mercy that You have bestowed upon me in my lifetime. Thank You for giving me what I don’t deserve and not giving me what I do deserve. I don’t understand it but I accept it.
You know you can experience this Grace and Mercy too! Jesus wants to give you the opportunity to grow and spread your branches and be established in Him. Here is a link to a website that will explain how that can happen and what it means to become a Christ follower.
He loves you so much. After all, He calls you His beloved.
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