Grace and Mercy
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” – Psalm 103:8
What does it mean when we say God is gracious and merciful?
Grace and mercy are two words we use to describe God, but they can sometimes be confused. I’ve heard people essentially use them interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.
Psalm 103 gives us a little insight into these words. The Psalmist, David in this case, follows the statement that the Lord is merciful and gracious with saying that the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The second part reveals the first.
The Lord is Merciful – Slow to Anger
We often do things deserving of God’s anger, yet God is merciful. He is slow to anger. Mercy is withholding the punishment we deserve. He is also just, though. So, in order to show mercy to us, He let the punishment of our sin fall on Jesus.
The Lord is Gracious – Abounding in Steadfast Love
Of ourselves, especially without Christ, we don’t do anything praiseworthy and righteous. With Christ, He is at work in us to will and do good works. So, even then, the good that we do is from Christ. Yet, rather than giving Christ the reward and the honor, He gives it to us.
Grace is giving something good to us when we don’t deserve it. God pours out His love for us in unimaginable ways. He blesses us, cares for us, gives us life, and so much more.
So, why does God withhold the punishment we deserve and give us great blessings we don’t deserve? Because that’s who He is. Since we deserve the punishment and don’t deserve the blessings, it can’t be us. It must be Him. He does it because that’s what He wants to do. That’s His character.
This gives great comfort. Not only can we be relieved to know God is gracious and merciful, but we can have peace to know that He does this not because of anything we do or don’t do. He does it in spite of what we do and don’t do out of His great love for us.
You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I have seen You do this in Your Word. I have seen You do this in my life. All praise and honor and glory are Yours forever and ever!
In Christ’s Service,