Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Power of Mercy

As I was contemplating this subject for my blog, I thought of Schindler’s List, a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, a powerful rendering of the Holocaust.

I want to share a scene from Schindler’s List, which has played in my mind. Schindler befriended Amon Goeth, a Nazi commander, who killed Jews for amusement. Schindler who had compassion on the Jewish community, used his position with Goeth to share how, "true power is the ability and willingness to show grace,” (Taken from Jacket Cover). Watch the clip.

Mercy Provides Do-Over-Days

Everyday we awake is a new day in where God has activated his mercy on an undeserving people. This should ignite in us the desire to love him with all our heart, soul, strength and spirit. When the sun rises, God provides another demonstration of his long suffering, no matter who we are.

God’s benevolence is this, “ . . . He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” (Matthew 5:45). God’s loving-kindness affords all human beings a do-over-day, a second chance to right our wrongs, to change a behavior, forgive or love someone more deeply, and to know we are vigorously loved by him.  “ . . . Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

His “compassions,” which “never fail” gives people, all over the world, another chance to accept or reject his Salvation through Jesus Christ. Or to drop the seed of hope into the life of another.

I often wonder why God bestowed mercy on a world that is hateful, unholy, ungrateful, and selfish and one that refuses to acknowledge his omnipresence. Yet God sent his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as a catalyst for his grace, mercy, and love.

Just as God is love, he is mercy. A.W. Tozer wrote in The Attributes of God, “There is only one answer to why God loved you: because God is love. And there is only one answer to why God has mercy on you: because God is mercy, and mercy is an attribute of the Deity.”

“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—,” (Colossians 1:21-22).

Abraham Pleads for God's Mercy For Lot

As I reread the story of Abraham, in Genesis chapter 18, where God told Abraham, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous . . ..” he chose two angels to destroy the city. I thought that God has to be merciful to allow Abraham to approach him and question his decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham, knowing his nephew Lot lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, reasoned with the LORD, “What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?” God told him he would not. Abraham continues—what about 45? How about 30? What if you found 20? One last question God, what if you only find ten righteous would you spare them? And God said, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it,” (See Genesis 18: 27-33). God was merciful because Abraham stood in the gap for Lot and his family.

You can read the whole story in Genesis chapters eighteen and nineteen. The part I’d like to mention is when it came time to leave Sodom, Lot hesitated; however, scripture says, “ . . . the men [Angels] grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them,” (Genesis 19:16; Brackets and Italics mine for clarification & emphasis).

Mercy is Wrapped in Love and Grace

The New Century Dictionary of the English Language says of mercy that it is: “Compassionate or kindly forbearance shown toward an offender, an enemy, or other person in one’s power; clemency; [and] leniency . . ..” Obviously Sodom and Gomorrah’s wickedness received the other side of God’s mercy, because he is a Holy God he must judge habitual sin. Today; though, we are under grace and where sin abounds God’s grace abounds all the more. Why? Because God desires reconciliation not destruction. (Read Romans 5:20; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

This is what God has done for us. He has shown compassion on a wicked people, he has shown forbearance, as he is patience with us all desiring that none should perish (Read 2 Peter 3:9). He uses the power of his love to show clemency to all, and especially those who call out for it. “Turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name,” (Psalm 119:132).

God wants to talk about how much he loves us and his mercy is one way he speaks of his love. We often think of 1 Corinthians 13 as the love chapter and rightly so; however, when considering God’s mercy, I submit, his forbearance with mankind has to be wrapped in love and compassion, in order for mercy to be mercy: In love there is:

  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • No envy
  • No boastfulness
  • No pride
  • No rudeness
  • No keeping records of wrongs
  • Does not delight in evil
  • Rejoices in truth
  • Always protect, trusts, hopes, and preservers
  • Does not fail

And love never fails because of God’s magnificent mercy, which chooses to redeem rather then to extinguish, like in the day of Noah or the city of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jesus in his famous sermon—The Beatitudes, said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy,” (Matthew 5:7).

Let us not only thank God for his mercies, which are new every day but let us be merciful as well.

Heavenly Father,

We are grateful beyond words that your mercies are new every morning. Thank you for do-over-days and second chances to get this life right. Help us to remember that, “*If we confess our sins,” you are “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Let your mercy pour from our lives to others out of love for you.

In Jesus Name Let it be so!

* 1 John 1:9

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