Grace and Mercy: what is the difference?

Last updated on March 3, 2022


Grace and mercy are two words that are very often used in the Bible so they are very important words to understand. The meaning of both words overlaps, but there are some subtle differences. A quick summary is: grace is getting what you don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what you deserve.


For us, as Christians, we are saved from the punishment of our sin, by God’s grace. Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Another way of easily remembering where grace stands for is: GRACE – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.

When we believe that Jesus died for us on the cross, by faith we accept God’s forgiveness, and with it comes many other spiritual blessings and riches, all because of what Jesus did for us (Ephesians 1:3). So we are getting what we don’t deserve and that’s grace.


According to God’s law, we have been condemned to be punished. But because of God’s great love for us, He sent Jesus to pay the debt of punishment for us. Because of this, He will let us be released from our punishment. So we are not getting what we do deserve and that’s mercy. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us…” (Ephesians 2:4).

Example of Grace and Mercy

For example: imagine a criminal who comes before a judge who condemns him to the punishment of death because the law requires it. And if then the judge takes the punishment instead of the criminal and dies instead of him. The judge leaves his house and his money, his entire inheritance to the criminal. How do you think the criminal will live after that? Not only did he escape the punishment, but he also received an inheritance that originally he never should have received.

This is exactly what Jesus has done for us, He took the punishment for us like the judge, this is mercy. He left His house, money, and possessions to the criminal. This is grace – receiving what we don’t deserve. Grace and mercy have been shown to all Christians throughout the world because of what Christ has done for us. In the same way, God calls us to treat others with grace and mercy. Asking us to show love to those who don’t deserve it, and forgiving those who have wronged us.

Read more: What does it mean to receive God’s grace?

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