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In Ephesians 2 verses 4 and 5 the Apostle Paul reminds us of three of God’s attributes that He displays towards humanity. Those particular three attributes are love, mercy and grace.

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV)

The Apostle John also highlights God’s love for us and the fact that one of God’s attributes, or character, is love. Because that is Who God is – love.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Saviour] shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 AMP)

“The one who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. [He is the originator of love, and it is an enduring attribute of His nature.]” (1 John 4:8 AMP)

So, what is love?

Most dictionaries define love as an intense affection and warm feeling for another, or strong sexual desire.

They have a definition of love similar to this:

noun: love; plural noun: loves

1. an intense feeling of deep affection.
2. a great interest and pleasure in something. eg: “his love for football”

However, the Bible tells us that love originates in God.

And the Bible tells us that:

a) Biblical love demands obedience

“Loving God means keeping His commandments” (1 John 5:3 NIV)

b) Biblical love is sacrificial

“By this we know [and have come to understand the depth and essence of His precious] love: that He [willingly] laid down His life for us [because He loved us]. And we ought to lay down our lives for the believers.” (1 John 3:16 AMP)

c) Biblical love implies action

“Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].” (1 John 3:18 AMP)

1 Corinthians 13 verse 4 to 8a describe all the Biblical characteristics of “love”.

“Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant.

It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.

It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail].

Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].

Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a AMP)

So, what is mercy?

Most dictionaries define the meaning of mercy as the compassionate treatment of those in distress, especially when it is within one’s power to punish or harm them.

The word “mercy” derives from the medieval Latin merced or merces, which means “price paid.” It has the connotation of forgiveness, benevolence and kindness.

The word “mercy” is also popular in a legal context, such as when a judge shows lenience upon sentencing.

Mercy appears in the Bible as it relates to forgiveness or withholding punishment.

One Christian website (Got Questions) defines God’s mercy this way:

“Mercy describes a divine attribute of God’s nature—He is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4), and His “mercy is great” (2 Samuel 24:14; see also Daniel 9:9).

Mercy is revealed in the actions God takes to relieve suffering and demonstrate His faithfulness and steadfast love.

Mercy is such an exceptionally complex concept that several Hebrew and Greek words are used to express the dimensions of its meaning.

Synonyms like compassion, loving-kindness, favour, and steadfast love often appear in Bible translations to illustrate the idea of mercy.

A brief biblical definition of mercy is “the gift of God’s undeserved kindness and compassion.”

So, what is grace?

Grace is the basis for the Christian faith. We believe we are saved by faith through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God’s grace is usually defined as undeserved favour.

Grace cannot be earned; it is something that is freely given.

Once again the Christian website (Got Questions) defines God’s grace this way:

“Grace is an essential part of God’s character. Grace is closely related to God’s benevolence, love, and mercy.

Grace can be variously defined as “God’s favour toward the unworthy” or “God’s benevolence on the undeserving.”

In His grace, God is willing to forgive us and bless us abundantly, in spite of the fact that we don’t deserve to be treated so well or dealt with so generously.”

So, we thank God for His love, mercy and grace, and we strive with God’s help, through His Holy Spirit, to show genuine love, mercy and grace to others – for that is the only authentic form of genuine Christianity.


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