Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, January 21, 2024
Shavuah Tov,

“Mercy and Grace”
by Jerry Miller

“Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, TLV)

As you get to know me a bit through these blog contributions, you will find that I love to write and talk about the grace of God.  I do plan to share on other topics as well, but I always seem to come back to this issue of grace.  I love it because my own life was so dramatically changed by the working of God’s grace, and that transformation continues to this day.  Over time, as the Lord brought me into a more formal ministry calling, I found that “grace” was becoming a life-message for me.  Eventually the Lord led me to write a book on grace, not as an “expert” but as a lifelong student of the treasures found in His grace.  I am still learning and still growing, as grace becomes more than simply a concept, but rather, a dynamic and life-impacting truth.

Today I would like to briefly consider the above verse and an important distinction highlighted here.  Often the words “mercy” and “grace” are used in ways suggesting they are simply different words with the same meaning.  However, they actually have different meanings, describing different aspects of God’s work in us.  Consider that the text above speaks of receiving mercy and finding grace to help us in time of need.  Clearly the implication is that both are necessary.  So then, how might we see the difference between mercy and grace?

Mercy relates to our sins and failures.  Because God is merciful, He forgives us as we confess our sins and place our trust in the shed blood of Yeshua as paying the price for our forgiveness.  I believe grace is broader in scope, impacting our personal transformation and providing empowerment for a life that honors God.  Mercy relates to our past and present sins, offering freedom from guilt and condemnation.  Grace relates to our present and future calling and destiny.  As I wrote a couple weeks ago, grace offers an empowerment for the “impossible” supernatural life to which we are called.  Mercy releases us from the debt we owe and the judgment we deserve.  Grace empowers us for a life in which God wants to take us beyond our natural abilities.

I would put it this way.  God’s mercy to us is an aspect of His grace, but it does not make up the totality of His grace.  The forgiveness that mercy provides is to be for us a beginning point, a doorway into an entire life marked by grace.  God’s mercy is that He forgives us and brings us into relationship with Himself, even though we are undeserving.  God’s grace is that He equips and empowers us for a holy and transformed life and calling that would otherwise be impossible.

In his own writings, Rabbi Michael regularly refers to the necessity of a life of obedience for every follower of Yeshua (see John 14:15).  Does the requirement of obedience negate the concept of grace?  Absolutely not!  Rather, the call to obedience forces us to lean on God’s grace for supernatural empowerment rather than trusting in our own ability to perfectly obey.  It is grace alone that makes a life of obedience to God accessible and possible.  Will we walk out this obedience perfectly in this life?  Not likely.  But here where we can see the beauty and power of God’s provision.  When we fall short, His mercy enables us to continue in relationship as we repent and acknowledge our sin, and His grace enables us to get back on track and keep moving forward in our walk of holiness.  Our failures and past sins do not disqualify us from a life that brings glory to God.  We can boldly come to His “throne of grace” to find mercy and grace—forgiveness and empowerment.

Grace is about divine empowerment for life and godliness, bringing dynamic transformation to our own lives and a testimony of Yeshua to those around us.  I’m not suggesting this is the ultimate definition of grace, but it gives us a practical framework for considering how grace takes us beyond that “beginning point” of forgiveness.

May the extraordinary grace of God empower you today, and every day, for a lifetime of ongoing transformation into the glorious likeness of Yeshua our King!

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
11 Sh’vat Sunday 21-Jan-24
Exodus 13:17-14:8 1 Kings 1 Psalm 92 Luke 17 Colossians 1:15-29