Mercy- one of the core theological words of the Bible. Sometimes it is linked together with the word grace, as in Hebrews 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Mercy and grace, do they mean the same thing? Are they just two words that can be used interchangeably?
Actually they mean two very different things. Grace carries with it the idea of us getting some from God that we don’t deserve while mercy could be defined as us not getting what we do deserve. So if one of my kids were to disobey (I know, very difficult to believe!), I would be extending mercy to that one if I didn’t discipline him/her and would be extending grace if I offered to take him/her out for ice cream.
As we move along in our reading today to Psalm 136, we come to a very interesting psalm in which every one of the 26 verses ends with the same phrase, “for his mercy endureth forever.” The writer of this psalm goes on to list many wonderful things that God had done, particularly for the Jewish people, and ends every verse ends with a reminder of his everlasting mercy. Mercy- it’s what the publican asked for in Luke 18 when he bowed his head and prayed, “Have mercy on me a sinner.” Essentially it’s the heart-cry of everyone who has every been truly born-again and it’s only because of His mercy that we are ever able to reach that point in our lives.
I must pause and give praise to God for His mercy in my life. Despite growing up in a fundamental Baptist church and Christian school I was approaching my 21st year lost and I knew it. God had been working in my life for several years, convicting me of my lost condition and drawing me to Himself. Yet I resisted. Sunday after Sunday I sat through hard salvation preaching and I rejected His working in my life. “Oh some day I will get saved, just not today”- that was my mindset. Then one day I was involved in a fairly serious car accident on Route 61 outside of Reading. Just seconds after impact, as I tried to drive my badly damaged car out of the line of oncoming traffic, my first thought was, “this is God!” I became convinced that my days of running were numbered. Either I was going to get saved or my window of opportunity would soon close. Such mercy for Him to let me come to that place and live to tell about it! Several weeks later, after wrestling through some matters of sin and confusion in my mind, I finally reached a place of repentance and faith and experienced His mercy in my life. How about you? Have you experienced His everlasting mercy?