Archives For mercy

I find the older I grow, and the longer I walk with the Lord, I’m less apt to pray for justice when I’m maligned, slighted, hurt, what have you. Oh, don’t get me wrong: I pour out my frustrations to Him with Whom we have to do. It’s just that when I’m just about ready to hurl damming imprecations heavenwards a funny thing happens:

It dawns on me that I’m a sinner, too. That there but for the grace of God go I. Because if I start praying that God would exact righteous justice upon those who have hurt me, what can I reasonably expect from Him? I deserve His justice just as much.

So I beseech Him for His mercy. For those who have hurt me (who are so obviously hurting themselves), and for myself. As it says in the Scriptures, “In wrath remember mercy.”

We are all of us alike before Him. We are all alike in our need of Him. “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has the caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”

Remember: hurting people hurt people. Don’t be so eager in your quest for swift justice that you forget it’s justice you yourself deserve, too. Thank God for His mercy today, my friends.

Because none of us deserves it.

Grace is a subject inexhaustible. A well whose depths we could never hope to fully plumb, a tower so high we could never hope to scale its heights. Perhaps then it’s easier to begin a post on grace by stating what it isn’t:

Grace isn’t mercy.

Mercy, for the purposes of discussion here, is simply the withholding of something deserved. For instance, let’s say you’ve been pulled over by one of our boys in blue for speeding. Both you, and he, know you deserve that ticket. You were speeding. Instead, the officer lets you off with a warning. You’ve just received mercy. A deserved consequence has been withheld.

How would grace play play out in a similar situation (for the sake of argument, please bear with me here)? You were speeding in your battered, beaten old Chevy. You stop. The officer approaches your car. You figure you’re going to get a ticket for sure. You’re not getting out of this one. When the cop asks you to exit your vehicle, you know you’re toast.

And then…

Not only does he give you a warning, he also hands you to the keys to his supercharged Dodge Charger. He says it’s yours, and to go on your way. You deserved a ticket, and instead got a new car!

That’s grace, my friends. Erstwhile theologians the Newsboys put it this way:

“When we don’t get what we deserve it’s a real good thing.” (Mercy).

“When get what we don’t deserve it’s a real good thing.” (Grace).

Put another way, and let’s say you’re a parent, the difference between mercy and grace is the difference between merely withholding a deserved consequence from your child (mercy), and instead bearing that consequence yourself–and then taking your kid out for ice cream! While the two go hand-in-hand, there’s nevertheless a vast divide betwixt them. As defined by the theologians, grace is “the unmerited, unearned favor of God.” We did nothing to earn it, nothing to deserve it, and yet He pours it out upon us.

Why?

Because Jesus.

Not only did He take our deserved punishment on the cross, He now pours out unearned, unmerited blessings upon us. Like the example above, we deserved a ticket, and instead got the new car.

All we have to do is believe.

The late science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein coined the phrase “there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” (TANSTAAFL). Respectfully, Mr. Heinlein I disagree. There is, and it’s called Christianity. Specifically, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Romans 5:8 says, “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” All who call upon His name shall be saved.

Have you called upon His Name today? Have you experienced His grace?

You can–if you will but believe.

Thanks for reading!

>oh (  ----   )!!!photo © 2006 Derek Baird | more info (via: Wylio)

Back many moons ago, I used to cuss like a sailor, but then I found Jesus (or He found me–still kinda confused on that), and didn’t feel like it anymore.

Only that’s not true: I may not speak them aloud, but I still “hear”/”speak” them in my head. Which I suppose makes me a hypocrite.

A huge, honkin’ hypocrite, right?

It is a truth so axiomatic that it’s almost not worth mentioning, but… I’m gonna go there:

My experience is that when someone first gets “saved” there is a distinct period of profound, grating self-righteousness. There’s a certain safety in legalism.

In my example, I was delivered (or so I thought) from cussing (which Christians don’t even universally agree is sin)–so it would really hack me off when someone in my life would let fly the epithets.

I couldn’t even see past the log of my anger to help with the speck in my brother (or sister’s) eye if I wanted to!

Not to mention that I wasn’t taking into account the big question: Why is so-and-so “cussing?” What’s the heart behind it, why are they upset, or hurting–what’s the motivation?

Yes, actions are important, and have consequences, but the heart behind them even more so. Which I failed to consider.

What a flaming hypocrite!

And now? I still use “swears” in my head from time-to-time–all of which Jesus, of course, “hears.” But do I speak them aloud? No, because then you would catch me: rat-trapped in my own hypocrisy.

O, wretched man am I!

Thankfully, God remembers my frame, that I am but dust, and has covered me in the blood of Jesus.

How about you? Do you cuss in your head, or let it loose from your lips?