Mercy protects us from the deserved punishment, and Grace provides us with a gift that's undeserved.
When I stop and think how this looks in real life in human relationships, I stop and go "Wow." In fact, it reveals to me where I may not be extending grace! Mercy might be easier to give.... than grace. In the context of a parent-child relationship, it's one thing to move forward in your day after a child throws a terrible tantrum, but do I feel like cuddling up to a belligerent child? Sacrificing my time playing Legos or reading books to a little person who just hit their brother or sister?
In marriage, we disappoint each other too. I say I can move past disappointments and unmet expectations, but do I offer true grace, perhaps with soothing and encouraging words after his strenuous day at work, or initiate an evening of intimacy after a disagreement? Rather, I might just compound the issue by my "I told you so's" and silence. Ugliness.... not graciousness.
To think about the punishment I actually deserve, and the mercy Christ extended by putting himself in my place on the cross - is overwhelming. But He didn't stop there! Now, in this life, I experience blessing upon blessing, even though I continue to sin! He graces me with a loving and providing husband, with adorable babies, with a church-fellowship, with beautiful sunshine and flowers, with good health, with a beautiful home to live in, with good food to put in our bellies, with the gift of knowledge and continuous learning... my God is truly a gracious God.
Yes, I've received mercy and grace today.
Thank you Lord.