Scripture Reading: â€œHave mercy upon me, O Godâ€¦â€ (Psalm 51:1)
Like the plea of David, the plea of all penitent sinners to God needs to begin with a plea for mercy. It is not justice that the penitent sinner should plead for, but mercy. Sinners should not pray for their just deserts, but for an undeserved pardon granted to them by a merciful God. The sinnerâ€™s desperately needed divine pardon is only granted to those who cry for it on the basis of Godâ€™s mercy, never to those who call for it on the basis of their merit.
Grace is defined as unmerited favor. It is often said to be Godâ€™s Riches At Christâ€™s Expense. It is God giving us what we donâ€™t deserveâ€”salvation and Heaven. The â€œgift of God,â€ which â€œis eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lordâ€ (Romans 6:23), cannot be earned, but only received. We canâ€™t earn it by our goodness. Instead, we can only reach out in faith and receive it from the gracious nail-scarred hand of Christ, who alone has made it possible through His sinless life, atoning death, and resurrection from the dead.
Mercy may be seen as the flip side of grace. Whereas grace is God giving us what we donâ€™t deserve, mercy is God not giving us what we do deserveâ€”condemnation and Hell. Whether weâ€™re talking about Godâ€™s grace or His mercy neither are made possible by anything that we do, but only by what Christ has done for us, which we could have never done for ourselves. Therefore, the only way for the penitent sinner to secure Godâ€™s pardon for his sins is for him to swallow his pride and to come humbly to Christ on his knees pleading for Godâ€™s grace and mercy.
â€œThe Gospel is good news of mercy to the undeserving. The symbol of the religion of Jesus is the cross, not the scales.â€ (John Stott)