A right response to mercy – Part 1

Often we take God’s mercies for granted, as they mostly operate invisibly in our lives. While “grace” describes the underserved nature of God’s love, “mercy” expresses God’s compassion in His love for we unworthy recipients. It’s God’s mercy which compels His desire to administer life’s daily provisions, not to mention the enormous number of unseen heavenly blessings. In this tangible world, we can only physically  experience and identify very few of God’s mercies compared to the gigantic reservoir that exists outside of our earthly senses (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 3:1-3).

Our appreciation of God’s mercy operates at the same level within our hearts as our love for God. As we increasingly recognise mercy, so we are enabled to respond more with love for Yahweh. As Peter knew and stated,  our love for God is not dependent upon a tangible manifestation of the Lord. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9). Peter, who suffered greatly for Jesus Christ, understood that the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls, is of first and ultimate importance, everything else falls second.

The apostle Paul expands on a right response to mercy in Romans 12:1, I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. The foundation for all our experiences of God, including our capacity to perceive Him, is His mercy. God’s mercy turns our fleshly hearts towards heaven, often in confusion and desperation, calling out for God to intervene in our lives.

Worship is the only right response to God’s mercy, and Paul specifies the precise nature of appropriate worship. Paul gets to the heart of the matter, explaining that we are to surrender our bodies, with all the complexities and implications that make up our daily lives. This is what he means by the words “as a living sacrifice.” Real world surrender to holiness is right and best reflects God’s holiness. This is what God calls acceptable spiritual worship!

Most will acknowledge, that this response to God’s mercy is not natural or always easy. It requires faith, sacrificial commitment, and discipline of our hearts and minds. This is why in the following verse (Romans 12:3), Paul reminds us that its God’s grace that enables us to examine ourselves to ensure that we are not proud. Because it’s human pride that challenges both God’s grace and mercy, claiming to be worthy of so much more than we really are. Whereas humility bows to God in gratitude and expressions of appreciation.

Although God’s mercy is often mocked because He dispenses it in His desired ways and in His timing, the fact remains, God’s patient blessings stand upon His mercy. God’s mercy and love are Siamese twins, conjoined in God’s heart, inseparable, and delivered to us through His Son Jesus Christ, His indwelling Holy Spirit, and His written Word, the Bible. 

Paul told the Ephesian believers that God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved (Ephesians 2:4-5). Only our arrival in heaven will permit us to fully comprehend the significance of these words. But for now, may we speak well of our Lord in word and deed, because of His mercy!

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