|When I say “God bless you” to people casually, I’m not saying I have the power in my hands to confer the blessing of God on your soul, am I? I’m not saying that. I hope I’m not saying that. I’m saying, “May God in His kindness shine His face upon you. May He look your direction. May He pour grace, mercy and peace in your life. May God be the source of these things,” because no one else can give them to us.
Grace, mercy and peace. Let me define grace. You’ve heard me say it before, you’ll hear me say it all the time. Grace is not undeserved favor. That’s a lame definition. Grace is undeserved favor in the face of deserved wrath. “There is not one righteous. No, not one.” We all deserve to incur the wrath of God. Nobody is better than anybody else at the base of Calvary. We’re all on the same level ground. We all deserve the wrath of God. Don’t water-down, don’t humanize grace as being gracious to people. Those are manners and customs that are good and polite things. Theological grace is God’s favor to people that deserve His wrath.
Secondly, mercy. Mercy is a little harder to get my hands around. I’ve studied mercy. I’ve done word studies and contextual studies. I would simply define mercy as what God gives us when we fail. You can improve on that definition I’m sure; What God gives us when we fail. I don’t know about you but I fail all the time. And when I fail I’m really not looking for grace, although grace is great. What I’m really getting is mercy. I’m getting a break.
I remember when one of my friends was going to discipline their child and they were going to use a paddle. This was years ago and they were going to use a paddle and they decided to dispense mercy on the kid. They said, “I’m going to show you mercy this time. I’m not going to paddle you. I’ll give you a break, I’ll give you an opportunity.” And from then on whenever this child was in lieu for a spanking, this little kid would go, “Give me mercy! Give me mercy! Give me mercy!” (laughter)
It’s a pretty good definition. When I fail and I’m busted and I’m caught, I need mercy.
Now, humans can measure out mercy to one another. I had a professor in college that when he required the papers to be turned in – he gave us “x” number of unexcused absences, he gave us “x” numbers of grades he threw away – and he said, “If you wrote the term paper and it was typed and in the folder and it was ready to go and you came in my class and you had the flu and you fell there, that paper’s late.” He wouldn’t take it. He was not a very merciful professor, was he? God rest his little soul. (laughter)
You know, we all fail. Is God merciful to you when you fail again and again and again and again?
You improve the definition. You do your own study on the word. It seems to me, mercy is when I fail God is merciful to me and that He doesn’t discipline me the way He could, even in the parameters of grace.