As I explore passages, God is often displaying two things to each individual: grace and mercy. These words are commonplace in church, but I often find myself fumbling through exactly what they mean and how they are different. In his book Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine, Max Lucado writes, “Grace goes beyond mercy. The difference between mercy and grace? Mercy gave the Prodigal son a second chance. Grace gave him a feast.”
Mercy is forgiveness. Grace is favor.
How humbling to know that Christ gives both lavishly. Over and over despite the offense, we see God offer forgiveness and favor. There is nothing too messy, too scary that He does not redeem. No person that He turns away. We do not see God operate with I-owe-yous or tally marks. There is nothing anyone does to earn, bargain, or plead their way to His compassion.
These people are pardoned because God says they are, and if I relate to these people in their struggles, I must believe God can say the same of me. His forgiveness makes me free. His favor makes me loved.
So in true prodigal son fashion, I will return home again. Home to a Father who will tenderly place His arm around me and say, ‘this daughter of mine was dead and has now returned to life, she was lost, but now she is found’ (Luke 15:24).