Psalm 118 repeatedly tells us to give thanks to God because “his mercy endures forever.” Since it is Merciful Monday, you can imagine that I am very happy to write about God’s mercy! J And this message is so timely because it is closely related to a topic that we have been discussing in church.
MERCY is defined as “compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; lenient or compassionate treatment of those in distress; a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion.” Similarly, GRACE is defined as “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification; a virtue coming from God; disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.” When I think of mercy, I always think of grace, and vice versa. The two really do go hand in hand.
If you murdered 10 children, most would deem the appropriate consequence to be at least, life in prison without parole. So if a judge decided to just give you just probation, or even grant you a reprieve, there would be uproar because the general consensus would be that the decision was unfair or unjust.
Similarly, when we sin against God, our actions have appropriate consequences. The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death,” meaning that the consequence to committing a sin of any kind is death—not death as we understand it, but spiritual death (which could also have physical, mental, and emotional repercussions) and damnation to Hell. Luckily, God is the ultimate judge and HE IS MERCIFUL. So when we commit sins that should have horrible consequences, God often treats us far more leniently than we deserve. He does chastise us, but not as harshly as he should. Instead, he uses these mistakes as opportunities to show us that we need Him and draw us closer to Him. He is like that judge, granting probation when we deserve life imprisonment.
Not only is he merciful, but HIS MERCY ENDURES FOREVER. It withstands the test of time because God never dies, sleeps or slumbers. And once he grants you a reprieve for your sin, he does not bring it up later and try to punish you for it. Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And their sins will I remember no more.”
This is a concept that can be hard to wrap your head around because as humans, we are so obsessed with punishing people as WE see fit. When your boyfriend forgets your birthday, you scream at him and then punish him by doing the same thing on his birthday 5 months later. When your friend yells at you for doing something stupid (as a friend sometimes should), you punish them by not talking them for two weeks. When a crazy person beats up your cousin, you show up at their house with 5 others to beat them up.
Was there ever a time when you thought to show mercy towards someone but did not? Why not?
I think that we punish people thinking that “justice” will empower us, take away the hurt from being wronged, and bring us peace, but in the end it does not. God’s model of enduring mercy shows me that mercy can even be the best option. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal so why should we come back at people in the manner that they come at us? Sometimes, like God, you just have to dole out a little bit of mercy and trust that the Lord will handle the situation, and that whoever wronged you one day see what they did wrong. Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full--pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” The amount of mercy that you give will determine the amount that you get back, so don’t always feel like you have to have the last punishing word in the argument or penalize people that do you wrong. And when you show mercy to others, this shows your acknowledgement and thankfulness to God. Furthermore, it makes room in your heart for God’s love and more of His virtues, which are far better than your own.
Merciful Mondays: Jael
“For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.” Deuteronomy 4:31