I once was pulled over by a cop for not having my tags up to date. As I sat there waiting for him to go back to his car to run my plates to see if I had actually paid for new tags, my mind was racing to remember if I had gotten the tags paid for this vehicle or was it the other one. I had paid online for the first time and never got a confirmation – was uncertain but didn’t want to pay twice – then I forgot about it until this current moment as I watched the officer in his car through my rear view mirror.
I am in trouble.
Then he stepped out of his car and walked up to my window. My stomach was flip-flopping and my heart racing. Then he told me that the computers were down and they were unable to access the records. He gave me a warning and told me to go home and get those tags on my vehicle. Home was 2 blocks down the street, so I drove shakily back the short distance to our house and went straight to look in my email to double check receiving confirmation. Nothing. So I called my hubby – car was in his name – he came home, went to the Secretary of State (for some of you it is DMV) and paid it so I would not have the same problem tomorrow. I was not tempting fate on the computers being down again.
All that to say, the cop was merciful. He had it in his power to ticket me because I was driving without tags. He chose to give me a second chance. That day I also realized it was the mercy of God that caused the computers to be down so I could legally remedy what I had failed to do the first time. I deserved a ticket, but was shown mercy. I did not get what I deserved, but what I needed – time to make it right.
Mercy is seeing a need and doing something about it because it is within your power to do so. It is never owed or earned. Mercy is having a need met out of the kindness of the one with the ability to do so. God is merciful. And in light of His holiness and my sinfulness, which we explored last Monday, that is a truly incredible thing!
I need mercy.
I deserve condemnation.
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1-7)
His love for us compels Him to be richly merciful. Richly merciful. Not just getting us out of hot water by forgiving our sin, but also extending new life to our deadness, positioning us the same as Christ in heaven, and showering us with incomparable riches of His grace – all because of Jesus. Not only did we not get what we truly deserved, we got what we could never ever gain – right relationship with God that warrants continued eternal blessings from heaven.
As a woman wounded by sexual abuse following years of verbal and emotional abuse, mercy is a hard word to process. Mercy means I must consider the call to forgive the one who carried out those crimes. I have it within me to forgive, because the Lord has forgiven me – while I was still His enemy, actively rebelling against His rule and reign on my life (Romans 5:8). Returning to the “Loving the Enemy” thought from a few weeks ago:
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” (Luke 6:35-36)
We are called to love our enemies, do good to them, and lend – expecting NOTHING in return. God became poor that we might become rich through His poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus became nothing so we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21) He made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, made in human likeness – to die wrongfully so that we sinners might be shown the mercy of God in the sacrifice. (Philippians 2:5-8) “Father, forgive them as they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) He does not wish for any to perish but all to come to repentance – though we all DESERVE to perish for our sin. (2 Peter 3:9)
To show mercy is to be like God.
Our enemy has wounded us and does not DESERVE mercy from us. They do deserve punishment – justly so. But we have it in our power to extend mercy – to give them what they do not deserve on any level. God has even MORE right to not show us mercy for our sin.
We are called to be like our Father. He says that those who are merciful have His favor and will receive mercy themselves. (Matthew 5:7) I believe we show mercy because we have received it from HIM. To be like Him, we must be merciful. I don’t know about you, but I want to be more like Him – to reflect my Abba’s heart and very character in extending mercy because He empowers me to do so in Christ. (Next Monday we will look into God’s justice, so do not think I am being light on sin and calling you to be merciful without calling for justice to be done. We will get there – trust me…)
- How does mercy settle in your heart as you consider your past wounds?
- What truth about God and His mercy encourages you the most in this article?
- What mercy has He shown you lately, aside from Jesus dying for you on the cross and forgiving your sin? I would love to hear what the Lord has done for you on this journey of healing and applying His Word to your wounds.
- Who is He showing you you need to extend mercy to in light of your wounds? How can I lift you up in prayer as you walk through this hard truth and apply it to your life?