Our youth pastor at church a few years back delivered a sermon to the congregation using this story to explain the difference between grace and mercy -- a wonderful sermon that explained this deep religious philosophy in terms children (and we adults) could understand...
The kids and I had a game of water gun war. The agreement was that the winner got to eat a Hersey bar and the losers got squirted with all the remaining water.
After a heated and spirited competition, I won.
“Okay, I laughed. Now I get to soak all of you, right?”
They looked at each other and then me and all sadly nodded their heads in agreement.
I took careful, exaggerated aim with my immense super-soaker gun, then didn’t shoot. Instead I smiled and said, “You deserve to be drenched, right? According to our agreement, the losers get drenched. But I am not going to give what you truly deserve. You can stay dry. That’s called mercy.”
Then I reached into my backpack and pulled out a giant size Hersey bar. I slowly opened it and dramatically took a large, long, satisfying bite. Then smiling broadly, I emitted a tantalizing sigh of enjoyment. I looked at the boys, smiled, and holding the bar out for all to see, said, “You didn’t win, so you don’t deserve a candy bar, right?”
They reluctantly agreed, their frowning faces and tearing eyes quite obvious as I took yet another large bite and exaggeratedly chewed the delicious chunk.
Then I reached into my pack again, producing more giant bars -- one for each of them -- and I proceeded to hand a large bar to each, saying, “According to our agreement, you lost. But even though you didn’t earn this, I’m giving it to you anyway. That’s called grace.”