Wednesday, June 5, 2024

God is Merciful

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. Famous words in the Christian faith, a song that even much of the non-believing world is at least minimally familiar with. Grace is one of the things we love to talk about most, probably because it's the only thing in this world that is truly free. 

By its very definition, grace must be free; grace is simply the giving of, or receipt of, something that is not deserved. By grace, we have been saved, for there is nothing we could have done to deserve our own saving. 

But there is something else about God that is also true - not just that He is gracious, but also that He is merciful. 

Mercy is a bit of a tougher pill for us to swallow. 

Despite the fact that we often use these words as synonyms, they mean very different things. While grace, as we just said, is the giving or receipt of something we do not deserve, mercy is not giving or not receiving something we do deserve. Like death. 

That's what makes it so hard for us to talk about mercy with the same kind of love that we talk about grace - to talk about mercy is to confess our own failure. It's the only way. We cannot confess there is such a thing as mercy, such a thing as not getting what we deserve, without confessing that we do, in fact, deserve something. And, well, I don't love talking about my failures; how about you? 

Yet the Bible is full of men and women of faith confessing plainly the mercy of the Lord. Of our Lord. 

One powerful example of this is in 1 Chronicles 21, when David conducted an unauthorized census of the people of Israel.

God, of course, is upset that David felt the need to measure the strength of his army when he ought to have known that the Lord was on his side and by this point, been able to trust in that, so there was sin present. There was rebellion present. There was mistrust present. And these things rightfully incur judgment from God. Through the prophet, God sends David a message and allows him to choose the consequences that will come upon the people because of this census. Given the choices of famine, war, or plague, David chooses the plague because he says, plainly, "The Lord is very merciful." 

Let us fall into the hands of God who is merciful rather than man who is not. Let us surrender ourselves in failure and weakness to the Force most likely to not give us the full measure of what we deserve. Let us put ourselves in the hands of the One who will be able to keep all things in perspective - our feebleness and His greatness - and act out of benevolent mercy for the greater good of preserving and prospering the relationship between us. 

Given the choice, let us choose mercy, for we are but sinners in the hands of a loving God. 

And in love, there is mercy. 


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