I once heard mercy and grace distinguished from one another like this:
Mercy is not giving someone what they deserve.
Grace is giving someone something they don't deserve.
So often, when we're talking about God, they go hand in hand. Because he is always giving us something wonderful we don't deserve INSTEAD of what we do deserve. Think Romans 6:23 "the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of god is eternal life in Chris Jesus our Lord."
So i was going about my business doing a little morning bible study the other day when I came across what might be the first recorded act of grace in the bible. I'm in Genesis 3, reading about the fall. And right after God gets through with the curse of their fall (the consequence of their sin, if you will) if says, "and the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin and clothed them."
BAM! Grace. Geez Louise. They deserved anything but a gift. The had just crossed the ONE boundary. They had been dealt the consequence of their sin, and yet... "He clothed them."
Oh, but it gets better.
"Then, The Lord God said, "Behold the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever--" therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden..."
God had warned them not to eat of that trees (the one that gave the knowledge of good and evil); and once they disobeyed it, rather than say, well you get what you deserve. You'll probably eat of that other one and live forever. That'll be a miserable existence. No. God moved them.
By chapter 3 of the Bible, we already see so much of who God is. He is just, and yet merciful and gracious.
Sometimes- those times when I let my mind clear and slow down and open up my heart- He reveals to me a bit of who He truly is. Sometimes it's something I knew, but revealed in a new way or with a new understanding. And sometimes, it's totally new. Something I never realized.
Because our God is huge.
His thoughts and ways are higher than my finite brain.
And yet, he reveals himself to me that I might grow in my relationship with him.