This week during our silence and solitude time, which we have once a month, I spent a couple hours contemplating the work of the cross.  I remembered a teaching on the difference between mercy and grace. 

GRACE = God DOES give us what we DON’T deserve.

MERCY = God DOESN’T give us what we DO deserve.

Mercy and grace are the work of the cross within an individual’s life, but I have been thinking more and more about the corporate work of the cross.  I know what it means that Jesus paid the price for my sin, but what does it mean to me that He paid for my neighbor’s sin?  If He was able to fulfill God’s justice through His sacrifice, to pay the debt I owed to God, can’t He also pay to me the debt of injury from my neighbor’s sin against me?  To forgive is to acknowledge my neighbor owes me and to release him from that debt, but then I bear the cost of his debt.  But the work of Jesus on the cross means that *I* do not have to bear that cost…Jesus can.  

Maybe a simple example with money will help.  Let’s say that Joe owes me $50.  If I forgive him that $50, I’m still short $50.  So then I bear the cost.  But if someone, say, Jesus, gives me $50, then he bears the cost.  Jesus died so that we can love one another truly, free from sin, selfishness, and self-protection.  

So many in this world have endured abuses that can never be repaid to them, the cost of which they cannot bear.  When we go continually to people to collect a debt they can never repay, we come up empty and wounded.  When we step with holy confidence out of the debt they cannot pay and turn to Jesus, we find the life they could not give.  

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TBZ Admins
    Mar 16, 2010 @ 03:34:46

    (((Beth)))What you set out up there is of course true, Jesus can and does repay the debts that are owed to us by others, but (you knew there was a but right?), we cannot live our lives in anticipation that Jesus WILL repay those debts.What I am saying is, if we enter into forgiving others as we have been forgiven on the basis that any imbalances will be reimbursed by Jesus (in the manner you set out with the $50 above) then we are forgiving with wrong motives in our heart! And in such a situation WE are actually not truly forgiving, we are simply transferring the debt onto Jesus.We need to forgive without thought of recovering the debt and if Jesus does repay it, then that is His grace to us!


    • raindropsintheocean
      Jan 30, 2011 @ 20:46:25

      Pete…just saw this comment (after a year even!) As C.S. Lewis says sometimes, it is just a picture that helped me. If it does not help you, throw it out.

      But I would submit to you that we CAN live our lives in anticipation that Jesus WILL redeem and restore, not only that, that He actively IS redeeming and restoring. I can’t think of a time yet that I turned to Him for bread and received a stone. Just don’t be bothered if He gives you more than you could possibly have imagined or deserved.

      As for me, I simply cannot forgive anyone from my own resources. It is only from the abundance of God that I have the ability to forgive.


  2. Cindy
    Jan 30, 2011 @ 19:53:59

    Hi Beth,

    I don’t know why I decided to click on your name tonight on then start reading your website, but I have to tell you that I’m amazed at the work you’re doing. You are so dedicated to bringing people to God. Wow!

    I have to tell you that I’ve been searching for a good working definition of grace and there you have it:

    GRACE = God DOES give us what we DON’T deserve.
    MERCY = God DOESN’T give us what we DO deserve.

    Now I get it! So thank you.


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