Mercy – freedom from the chains you deserved, a gift given instead of punishment.
James 2:13 Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Many times in my life I have felt far away from God’s presence. Attending church I would often find myself relating to the part of a sermon that depicted sin and unrighteousness in people. There seemed to always be a demonstration of Gods punishment to be visited on those lacking a certain level of righteousness, a specific amount of spirituality and a particular display of maturity. We have created this principle of judgement for sins as a means to gain spirituality, and conduct ourselves accordingly. A spirit of religion has taught us the laws of cause and effect, of doing to get. Religion suggests we should live a certain way to ensure we gain in favour with God, and if we fall out of favour because of our actions we are sure to experience His wrath in the form of calamity, curses, sickness and even death. This is the description of a dictator, not a loving God. The idea of a vengeful God sparks recognition because of the familiarity of the doctrine I had received in church. This is a misgiving of who God is in essence. He is in fact very relatable. He is inherently good, consistently good, only good. I find that when faced with difficulty and unfavourable circumstances my first thoughts stem from feelings of inadequacy, of somehow being deserving of less than enough. I am then also led to believe that when I live a good and righteous life I become deserving of His favour and gifts again. In my mind I’m consistently falling in and out of favour with God. This created the concept that favour from God needs to be maintained by our works. Because it becomes something we can work or perform for, it becomes something that can also be taken away from us. In turn this will lead us to blame God when things don’t go our way, especially when we have been putting in the effort required to be the kind of child He would want to show mercy to. The cause and effect idea religion has created in our minds will eventually result in offense towards God, anger at not getting after doing, feelings of being cheated and being unappreciated and even abused in the Kingdom.
Something I learned recently is that to fully experience the love of God requires me to lay down the opinion that there is a certain ‘place’ (spiritually) I need to arrive or a ‘level’ I need to attain in order to be worthy of standing before Him. If His love and attention was dependant on your shift from wrong to right, then Jesus would’ve waited for you to decide to love Him before He died for you. Yet He loved us before we ever loved Him, while we were sinners. I always find it fascinating that we think the love of Jesus enough to gain us salvation, and that His blood is sufficient to wash us clean and cleanse us of our old man, and yet soon after we find ourselves trying to maintain our salvation by works. The work Jesus did on the cross is enough. The only setting where it seems to come short is in our own thoughts. It is in our own minds that the struggle for control and power causes us to doubt the efficacy of the blood shed for us. There is no work that can gain or maintain His mercy on our lives, but the effect it has is hampered by our own ideas of whether we are deserving of it or not. In all honesty the biggest struggle is to just accept that I am loved, as I am. This to me is a bizarre and crazy concept; I am loved just as I am by the God of the universe. It is a beautiful day the moment you realise you can just rest in His arms. The fact that He saw us while we were sinners, fully aware of our mistakes, and still chose to love us suggests we have always been acceptable to Him. Our mistakes don’t cause Him to become uncertain of us or of His feelings for us. He delights in us still, even when we think we are not acceptable.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
God reasoning looks like this, He wants to be merciful to us, and wants us to reason in this way, too. He wants us to know that we are forgiven and redeemed of our sins. Mercy is not just something to be had, something bestowed on us when we ask for it. It is the very heart and mindset of God. He is merciful and gracious. Mercy is the attitude with which God approaches His children. It is what governs His heart and thoughts about us. He delights in showing us mercy.