A right response to mercy – Part 2

God’s mercy is intended to produce a righteous response in its recipients, as mercy expresses God’s compassion for us. Mercy should never be experienced without allowing a right flow-on effect, which is Paul’s point in Romans 12:1. In response to God’s mercy we worship Him through surrendering our lives, including our minds and bodies, to holy living. But that is not to be the end of God’s mercy story for us.

Mercy, by nature, has a ripple effect in the lives of those who are touched by it. Yes, its impact is first experienced by its immediate recipient, but the effects become visually and audibly undeniable as its influence radiates outward. The apostle Paul shows this outward direction of mercy in Romans 12:2, do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Mercy triggers, then fuels, the ongoing transformation of the believer’s mind, enabling nonconformity to weak and sinful worldly thinking and behaviour.

It’s impossible for such a transformation to go unnoticed, as renewed thinking produces renewed behaviour. As values and priorities change under the government of God, patterns of thought and behaviour will also change, some immediately and others over time. Mercy impacted believers increasingly respond to life and people in a different way, because the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

God’s mercy is seen at its brightest through Jesus’ accomplishments on the cross and His resurrection. Faith in Jesus’ substitutional death opens the floodgates of forgiveness, of changed status from sinner to innocent child of God, and of eternal life with promised heavenly security (Romans 3). These spiritual realities form the foundation on which the Christian stands.

Life’s circumstances change, personal struggles often persist, and God’s enemy will be relentless in his opposition, but our standing before God “in Christ” will never alter (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:26). Therefore, it’s essential for believers to discipline themselves in a constant focus on the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews  12:2). We choose  to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might (Ephesians 6:10). We do this by letting the word of Christ dwell in us… and by singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God (Colossians 3:16). We do this by intentionally putting on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11, 14-18). We do this by inviting and allowing the love of Christ to control us and to determine our gospel centred responses to life (2 Corinthians 5:14). And we do this by using God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NLT).

God’s Word, energised by the Holy Spirit, provides us with an arsenal of spiritual artillery in the battle against sin, against destructive thinking, and against the devil. And it is God’s mercy that motivates us to be on our guard; to stand firm in the faith, to be courageous, and to be strong, doing everything in love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14. Cf. Jude 1:20-23). May the apostle John’s greeting of 2 John 1:3, be true in our lives today; Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love. Amen.

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