Grace is favor: something delightful that is completely undeserved, unexpected, and freely given. For example, salvation is a gift from God that we cannot earn (Eph. 2:5–9). Grace helps us grow in sacrificial love because it reminds us that our spouses do not owe us anything. Because we are recipients of God’s generous grace, can we offer any less to our husbands or wives?
In the context of our marriages, we have regular opportunities to extend grace by going beyond what’s expected to bless our spouses. Grace is saying, “I know it’s your turn to give the kids a bath/cook dinner/walk the dog, but I’ll do it.” Grace is easy when we’re well-resourced and not so easy when we’re tired or stressed.
Mercy carries with it connotations of being spared, pardoned, or forgiven for something we did or perhaps didn’t do. It is a manifestation of kindness and love, particularly when something else is deserved. Referencing Titus 3:5, poet Luci Shaw writes, “Now, as we yield ourselves to be washed in grace’s laundry, the scandal of undeserved mercy acts on us as God’s unlikely bleach.” Yes and amen! The Lord is merciful to us even though we regularly break his commands. Extending mercy fosters sacrificial love because it prevents us from judging one another and hardening our hearts.
Dorothy Littell Greco is the author of Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You. She is a writer, speaker, and photographer. © 2017 Dorothy Greco. Making Marriage Beautiful: Lifelong Love, Joy, and Intimacy Start with You is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Used by permission.