Friday, March 26, 2010

I received mercy


“I received mercy” (1 Timothy 1:16)

Paul, in the midst of sharing his testimony in a letter to Timothy, remembers that God is the one who has shown mercy toward him. Reflecting back on his life before Christ lets him remember that he was not seeking after God but rather God sought him out in his great mercy. Every follower of Jesus Christ ought to say with Paul: “I received mercy.”

Mercy is defined as “compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power” (dictionary.com). As God’s children we have been given mercy from our Father. Before our conversion Christ kindly showed forbearance to us the offending party. Paul who was “a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent opponent” was shown mercy by the very God he was blaspheming. Like Paul we all are the offending party. All of us have sinned against the holy God of the universe. Our authority, God’s word, is clear that we all have fallen short of God’s perfect holiness. If you are breathing right now you have been shown mercy whether you follow Christ or not. This is a great reality of God’s great love. For those who love Christ we can be grateful like Paul and reflect on our lives saying, “I received mercy.”

If you have not humbly submitted to Christ and his finished work on the cross may I show you the kind mercy of God: “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance [mercy] and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness [mercy] is meant to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? What love God has shown to every single human being. We all deserve one thing but God displays his kindness and draws us to himself in repentance. What a gracious God. Because of his Son, Jesus Christ, we are offered the forgiveness of our sins through faith and repentance. This is God’s forbearing kindness. Look at the gospel: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” God has taken his wrath away through his Son but then the text talks about the forgiveness of our sins: “This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance [mercy] he had passed over formers sins” (Rom. 3:23-25). Mercy, mercy, mercy. God is showing his mercy so that we may repent and trust in the finished work of Christ.
Christian, this reminder of the gospel should bring great joy to your heart. What a gracious God who loves us beyond any sort of love we could imagine. To bring more joy to your heart look at this text I hope we are all familiar with but haven’t put aside or stopped being affected by it: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5). God is so rich in mercy. Paul isn’t the only one who can look back and reflect on a life of spite against God. All of us were blasphemers, persecutors and insolent opponents against God. Maybe it didn’t manifest itself out like it did with Paul but our hearts were enemies of God. O but “I received mercy” through God’s kindness to me. He graciously showed me my sin and then showed me the great forgiveness found only in Christ. Thank you Lord for your great mercy!

Grace upon grace,
JRL

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