Mercy and grace are 2 sides of the same coin. We often confuse them; or at least merge the 2 meanings together. It is easy to see what that is. In both cases, something is willingly given that isn’t mandated. I use these simple definitions to remind myself of the difference:
Grace – Giving something good that wasn’t deserved.
Mercy – Not giving something bad that was deserved.
For Christians, we understand that God has offered us both mercy and grace. The very foundation of our faith is in the mercy we receive from confessing our sins and the grace God offers to us both now and for all eternity. God’s mercy and grace are one continuous idea – God shows us mercy so he can give us grace.
If I am to reflect God to the world, how do I show mercy and grace? I don’t often find myself in situations where I can show mercy. I am not in a position to negate a punishment, though you could argue that when disciplining my children I could go easy on them (which of course may be to their detriment long term). As for grace, I believe I have plenty of opportunity.
One practical way to share God’s grace is through a personal ministry. I was once told by a friend that everyone should have a ministry, and I wholeheartedly agree. It is through our ministering to others that we give someone something they haven’t earned or paid for. We do it for them, not because we must, but because we want to reflect God’s love into the world.
I believe that we find ministry most effective, and therefore most rewarding, when we are involved in the one we were created for. God has given each of us different abilities and passions. Some of them seem to be ingrained in us from birth; while others are developed through experience and exposure. Either way, God has created and guided us for a special purpose to show His grace to this world.
Most churches have many opportunities to use our talents. You can lead worship, teach Sunday school or sit on a committee. But, we can also look outside of the scope of what a local congregation organizes, which tend to minister to those who seek, and minister to those who need to be sought.
Some people minister with community groups – working with “at-risk” youth, delivering meals-on-wheels or volunteering for a charity. Others have ministries that are simply doing something for someone who needs it – shovelling snow for an elderly couple or visiting with someone who just appreciates a good conversation. Jesus commands us to love our neighbours and through ministering to others we are providing a glimpse of God’s grace – we are showing love in action.
God has granted us unspeakable mercy and has given us immeasurable grace. Our response should be to pass His generosity along; finding a way to shine into the world and live like we have been saved and serve like we want everyone to know it.