Better Than I Deserve
11/29/12 at 04:22 PM 9 Comments

Grace and Mercy Definitions

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Jack Wellman, 2012

I have people generally ask me, “How you doing?” and my reply is normally, “Better than I deserve.” This is so true for the Christian. If we have enough food in our pantry for more than one day, if we have running water, if we have an indoor toilet, if we have shelter to keep out the wind, rain, cold, and hot, and if we have a Bible, then we are doing better than 90% of the world. I have several Study Bibles, I get free MP3 downloads from many great pastors and teachers, I get to worship God with other saints of God without fear of being killed or charged with blaspheme (as in many nations), and I have more than I will ever need in a lifetime. So how can I not say I have it “better than I deserve?”

For one thing, we are where we are only because of God’s sovereignty. He does nothing carelessly and without forethought. He didn’t put you where you are at work, in your neighborhood, in your public school or college, in your family, in your community, or in your church by accident.

A Definition of Grace

Maybe you’ve heard this definition of grace before. Grace is what we get which we do not deserve. That’s why Paul called grace a gift of God. It is undeserved and unmerited and works cannot earn it. If it could, then we couldn’t call it grace anymore which is why it is written, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). By this free gift, which we do not deserve, we “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). To receive it freely means that we cannot earn it. No wonder Paul declared, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” (2 Cor 9:15)! It would be like me taking credit for my birthday gifts. How can I take credit for being born and getting free gifts? I couldn’t have earned my birth or my birthday gifts anymore than I could have earned God’s grace. Imagine getting a citizenship award for good behavior but your behavior is really attributed to Christ living within you. You received an award that you really didn't earn and didn't deserve. That is grace.

A Definition of Mercy

Perhaps you have heard this definition of mercy before and I think its spot on. Mercy is where we don’t get what we truly do deserve. What we do deserve is the wrath of God, but fortunately one of my favorite memory verses explains how this mercy was made possible. In 2 Corinthians 5:21 it says, “For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus became sin for us…for our sake so when God sees us, He sees Jesus’ righteousness and not our own filthy rags. This only happened because of God’s mercy. We didn’t get what we really did deserve. What we deserved is what Jesus got. This was made possible only because “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7). Imagine getting a death sentence and being on death row. Now imagine Jesus dying in your place even though He is innocent of the charge. That is mercy.


That’s why I called this blog Better Than I Deserve because it’s the truth. We don’t get what we really do deserve (called mercy) and then get what we really don’t deserve (called grace). Can’t you see it!? I don’t deserve what I have and what I have is better than most people in the world have. God’s grace and mercy are better than I deserve.


Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believers daily walk with God and the Bible.

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