Yesterday, we saw mercy and compassion as being integral part in the act of forgiveness. Today we turn our attention to Mercy and Grace. Having understood “Mercy” to be the act of being denied what we rightly deserve, “Grace” on the other hand, is the act of being given what we do not deserve. The former is negative – it takes away the punishment due us; while the latter is positive – giving to us what could never have been ours. Both are accomplished in God’s act of forgiveness. We must however appreciate the fact that, in the act of forgiveness, mercy always comes ahead of grace. This is aptly demonstrated in the story of the Prodigal Son as told to us by Christ in Luke 15:11-32. Here we see the son being shown both mercy and grace.
Here, we see the son returning home after having gone away from home to “wantonly dissipate” half of his father’s property. What he rightly deserved was anger and hatred from the father, and eternal banishment from the family property. He as a son knew that, so did the senior brother. But the father knew better, because he was representing the Heavenly Father, who is always full of mercy and compassion. He did not only run to meet him. He was fully expecting him to come back.
Grace was demonstrated when the father embraced him, kissed him, and commanded the best robes, the best rings and the best sandals for his body, hands, and feet respectively; and for a fattened cow to be slaughtered for a celebration for him. He was given what he least deserved! That is Grace, Great Grace!
Please Note: Mercy is always activated only when one decides to come back home. Four things inform our coming back:
- Realization: “When he came to himself” – Lk. 15:17
- Intention: “I will arise and go to my father” – Lk. 15:18a
- Admission of guilt: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and
before you” – Lk. 15:18b
- Action: “And so he arose and came to the father” – Lk. 15:20a
That which motivated the prodigal’s return was that he knew he had a listening father. Today we have more than a listening father. We have a Great High Priest in the person of Jesus Christ, who was tempted in every way just as we are but without sin. He has gone through the heavens and is seated at the right hand of authority, pleading our case for us. All we need to do is to come with confidence to the throne of grace. “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…” Heb. 4:7b.
Activate RIAA – Come to a point of Realization; Have an Intention to quit; Have the readiness to Admit your guilt; and finally, Act upon your intentions.