MERCY OR JUSTICE?

Having ministered to inmates in prison for a number of years, I regularly hear people in the free world make the comment “they are only getting what they deserve.”  My standard reply is “what if God gave us what we deserve?”  It is very interesting that when it applies to others we cry out for justice but when it is our own situation we cry out for mercy.  I am so incredibly grateful that we have a God that gives us mercy even when we are so undeserving, aren’t you!

The book of Ephesians tells us As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sin, 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.  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.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”[1]  I love how this passage of Scripture says “who is rich in mercy.”  God provides mercy abundantly and He has an eternal supply.  Even when we are were dead in our sins, God loved us enough to supply His grace and mercy.

I believe that the words that Paul shared with Timothy accurately describe my life.  Paul said “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.  Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen”[2]  Christ Jesus, through His immense patience, can take someone like me, unclean and unworthy, and use me as an “example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life.”

God’s men need to open their eyes to just how merciful God has been to us and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives in such a way that we can be a living testimony of mercy!  It is when we get all “religious” and start pointing our fingers at others sin that Satan begins to shadow God’s mercy from our thinking and we lose focus of our role as an example and become judge and jury of those around us.  Today’s church is its own worst enemy for this very reason.

Some of God’s men have developed a “sit and soak” mentality.  We go to church with the expectation that just showing up is our only responsibility and beyond that we hope we can sit and soak up some of the music or message being shared.  While some “sit and soak” others “sit and stew.”  They are more concerned with how someone is dressed or their appearance is not “churchy” enough to suit them.  This quickly leads to a heart that is focused on judgment rather than mercy.   Whether your method is “sit and soak” or “sit and stew,” you are missing the whole purpose and intent of the importance of Believers coming together to educate themselves to be of service to the Lord while loving on each other with Christ-like love.

Being equipped to disciple others is not even a thought that would cross our minds and we have forgotten the mercy that was extended to us when God forgave us of our sins; past, present, and future.  We can very quickly move from the mindset and heart of mercy to that of justice being applied to others.  We show such disregard for the gift of grace provided by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ when we fail to share the most important gift we have ever received; mercy and forgiveness that leads to eternal life with our Heavenly Father.

There is a wonderful Contemporary Christian song entitled “Mercy Said No”[3] and the lyrics say: 

“I was just a child when I felt the Savior leading; I was drawn to what I could not understand;
And for the cause of Christ I have spent my days believing That what He’d have me be is who I am; 
As I’ve come to see the weaker side of me I realized His grace is what I’ll need; When sin demanded justice for my soul;
Mercy said no, I’m not going to let you go; I’m not going to let you slip away; You don’t have to be afraid;
Mercy said no Sin will never take control; Life and death stood face to face; Darkness tried to steal my heart away; Thank You Jesus, mercy said no
For God so loved the world that He sent His son to save us; From the Cross, He built a bridge to set us free;
Oh, but deep within our hearts, there is still a war that rages And makes His sacrifice so hard to see As midnight fell on Crucifixion Day, The light of hope seemed oh so far away;
As evil tried to stop redemption’s flow, Mercy said no, I’m not going to let you go; I’m not going to let you slip away; You don’t have to be afraid;
Mercy said no, Sin will never take control; Life and death stood face to face Darkness tried to steal my heart away Thank You Jesus, mercy said no.
And now when Heaven looks at me It’s through the blood of Jesus Reminding me of one day long ago Mercy said no, I’m not going to let you go I’m not going to let you slip away You don’t have to be afraid;
Mercy said no; Sin will never take control; Life and death stood face to face; Darkness tried to steal my heart away;
Thank You Jesus, mercy said no; Mercy said no.”

So my question to you, God’s man; Are you a living example of God’s mercy or are you spending your time pointing out the shortcomings and sins of others?  Do a careful assessment of your daily walk with the Lord and measure yourself by the standards in God’s Word and not the world’s standards!  Start each day by saying “Thank you Lord for your mercy and let me be an example of your mercy to others today.”  Satan is always going to try to get in our way and darkness is trying to steal hearts away but God’s mercy is everlasting and never ending!  AMEN AND AMEN!!

 


[1] Ephesians 1:1-5.  All Scripture used in this article is taken from the NIV translation of the Holy Bible unless otherwise noted.
[2] 1 Timothy 15-17
[3] “Mercy Said No” written by Donald A. Koch, David Allen Clark, and Greg Long

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