Titus 3:5 He saved us because of his mercy, and not because of any good things that we have done. God washed us by the power of the Holy Spirit. He gave us new birth and a fresh beginning.
James 2:12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
James 2:13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Jeremiah 9:24 But let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.
Numbers 14:18 The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression…
My hubby and I were discussing what the judgement, punishment, and wrath of God means to us. Our discussion led to me asking him to relay the first thoughts that come to mind when he hears people wondering about their destiny in God and whether things happening in their lives were a result of God’s wrath that visited them because of sin in their lives. His response was profound. He advised me to skip writing a blog altogether for this month and instead plaster these words only across the page, “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” I so admire such a minimalistic and simple approach. For us the power is always in simplicity. This phrase seems to sum up the answer to every thought we have had that questions the integrity of our identity in God. We so often use the situations in our lives as a point of reference to question God’s motive and intentions, wondering what exactly it is He wants to teach us through suffering and hardship.
When we find ourselves asking questions grounded in fear and doubt, we are essentially in a place where we have no peace. This is especially true when we didn’t receive something we had asked God for. Our response when faced with confusion is usually, “Why would God do this?”, “What did I do wrong?” These questions originate out of a misconception that we can work for His love and favor. In essence, we are saying the price Jesus paid can be added to by our efforts, and we can increase the value He has placed on our lives by behaviour and achievements. Many of the feelings of being cheated and mistreated come to mind when I do not have my way. We see the fact that we didn’t receive as a testament to inferior efforts and works on our part. We end up resenting God for not doing what we want or ask for and interpret the lack of action on His part as punishment for something we did wrong. I sometimes think God will honour prayer requests solely on principle. We have created this idea that when we sin the wrath of God will be poured out on us. The judgement of God becomes a reality to us because it is a principle we have created from religious perspectives that we can ‘do to get’, that God is in the business of extorting His children to please Him. We so very often oblige – twisting our own arms in the pursuit of favor – to do better and work harder at being righteous so that we can have what He has to give, thinking our works are what maintain our salvation. We hope our efforts will be recognised and rewarded, and as soon as we are disappointed with the rewards we didn’t get we resent Him and we are left bitter. When I find myself in a situation where I am cheated the resulting emotions are usually due to failing to realise my source is God. So many questions arise, leading to doubt. I question His heart, intentions, motives, love, favor, and ultimately His Word. Often times these questions will lead to us attempting to appease a vengeful (in our minds) God, and to pacify His wrath. To assure He does still love us and pays attention to us we then become preoccupied with works, attempts at getting back to His heart, thinking we don’t know what makes Him happy and desperately trying to find the winning combination of actions and words that will elicit action from Him. The only problem I have with all the thoughts and insane overachieving mentality is the fact that every facet of the concept is based on gain – getting and possessing. It’s selfish. Somehow all the efforts are directed at God, but we still don’t know Him truly.
He has saved us because of His mercy, and not because of any good thing we have done. There is absolutely nothing we can do that can make the heart of God falter – nothing that can separate us from His love, and nothing that can cause Him to turn away from us. Nothing we face, in any way, is a result of His punishment or judgement on us. He loves us, and nothing we can do can undo the salvation He has given us. The price Jesus paid for us is not inferior, we do not need to do anything to add to it or make it more sincere. All we need to do is live a life of love, allowing our thoughts to align with His, to know His intentions are good and pure, to steadfastly believe He is a loving and good Father who doesn’t visit evil on His children.
Psalm 33:18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love
Psalm 33:22 Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you.