My mind has been tossing around the age old question of which came first – not in regards to the chicken or the egg; but rather in terms of grace and mercy and how they interface.

Grace is something I hear and talk about often.  In fact, in our home two statements often heard are,”Grace, it’s a wonderful concept – I really hope it catches on some day!” The other is posted on our wall.

Grace is certainly a good thing to make part of our life.  After all who does not want to receive something we don’t deserve (in a good way)?   That is what grace is – extending to others, and even ourselves, forgiveness, love, kindness, hope, a helping hand, etc. that is not deserved. 

I’ve been the recipient of grace when I snap at someone trying to help me on the phone, yet the person on the other end still interacts with me in a kind and gentle manner.  I’ve experienced grace often from my husband when I gripe and complain and he listens and replies to what I really need, not what I just dumped on him!   Grace is bestowed upon me by the person with whom  I am very delayed in responding to their email or call, or I arrive late for a meeting and they make time for me as if nothing ever stood in the way.

Recently Micah 6:8 has been showing up in my life over and over again.  “He has shown you o man what it good, and what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

I know this is not the only passage where God tells us what He expects of us.  But  I’ve found it curious that in this verse we aren’t told to love and seek grace, but mercy.  

Mercy- sort of an opposite, yet complimentary act to grace.  Mercy is not getting what we deserve.  Examples in my life of mercy . . .  well first and foremost is the mercy I receive from God – that He does not make me pay the ultimate penalty (death) for my sin, but forgives me through the gift of His Son (that’s the grace part).    On a human level, mercy abounds toward me when I exceed the speed limit, or turn right on red when the sign says it is not allowed and I do not receive a citation.

So I’ve been wrestling with the thought – if God tells us to love mercy, why is that in the Christian community I hear way more messages and thoughts about grace than I do about mercy?  

So far I’ve come up with a couple of possible answers:

1)  Grace seems easier  to talk about and perhaps even to extend.  We want to be on the receiving end of good, and we may even feel better about ourselves when we get blessings that we do not deserve.  

2)  Grace may be a bit easier to extend than mercy.  We want people to think of us as gracious giving people.  To extend mercy it is often more about our own heart attitude, and not what we do for others to see.  We have to be willing to forgive, forget or move forward to not unload on someone what (we think) they deserve.  Mercy means we let go and trust God.  

Could it be that if we really lived out Micah 6:8 by acting justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God that we would automatically live lives both filled and overflowing with grace, not to mention the fruits of the spirit?

What do you think?  I know my ponderings may need some tweaking – I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What is easier for you to practice or to receive – grace or mercy?  How can we encourage each other to live out Micah 6:8?