"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in
transgressions– it is by grace you have been saved.”
–Ephesians 2:4-5 [NIV]
The Bible never says that God is rich in wrath but it does say that He is rich in mercy. This means that God’s heart is always bent towards seeking, drawing, and redeeming lost humanity. His record throughout scripture shows a desire to deliver not destroy, save not condemn, forgive and not forsake. The cross stands as irrefutable evidence to all generations that God did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. It was mercy not wrath that moved God to come and pay our fine at His own expense. The death of Jesus was God’s disclosure of His wealth, the balance statement of His riches. And the currency found in the coffers if his heart was mercy. Abundant, rich, and bountiful mercy. Mercy that is higher than the skies, deeper than the seas, richer than all the fortunes of the world.
A perfect and flawless life would have no need for mercy. There would be nothing to forgive. But who can ever make such claim? No one! There is no one good, not even one (Romans 3:10). If God would ever want to have dealings with man, mercy and not justice would have to go before Him. What father or mother does not have to abstain from giving his child what they really deserved when they defy their authority? Who then would be able to stand in the presence of God without Him showing us leniency? Mercy is necessary if closeness is desired. When God clothed Himself in flesh to save the world, He had to bring with Him a luxurious measure of mercy. Without it, a trail of death and destruction would mark the steps He treaded. Mercy overlooks the stench of human sin and dismisses the smell of death exuding from our fallen nature. Mercy withholds wrath and partners with grace to extend forgiveness. God does not come in fury, He does not enter the human scene in rage. He comes with rich mercy, with robes of gentle love and enduring faithfulness. These are the garments of divine compassion, the wings of redemption relentlessly announcing salvation to all mankind.
Some will, in arrogant contempt, tear apart these garments. They will break God’s wings of mercy. Their rejection of God’s salvation constitutes the crown expression of human defiance against the generosity of God. Even though mercy goes before God’s face to reconcile men to Himself, righteousness and justice are nevertheless the foundation of God’s throne (Psalm 89:14). It is only by grace that we can be saved. If we discard it, we trash the very gift God gave to save our souls. Without it, we collide head on with God’s holy throne of justice, having nothing but our sins to defend us. We will have nothing else to look forward to but His wrath, the righteous response of holiness when grace is mocked by insolent pride. Saying no to God’s mercy is despising the sufferings of Christ and rendering worthless the shedding of His precious blood. God’s word affirms in Psalm 100 that He is good and His steadfast love endures forever. So even God’s punishments are rooted in His goodness. God does not condemn because He is evil, He condemns because He is good, because He is holy. This is what righteous judges do. They sentence those who insist on violating what is good. Getting too close to the sun without proper protection will turn its gentle rays into a lethal fire. Disposing God’s mercy is inviting God’s destruction. But anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, for God, who is rich in mercy, will give life to all who accept the forgiveness and life Jesus gives us.
– Are you a reflection of God by letting grace go before you when dealing with the sin of others at home, at church, or at work? Are you an agent of salvation giving grace and mercy to those who sin against you?
– Have you clothed yourself with the mercy of God? Are you saved? Will His light strengthen you or destroy you? If you are not saved, call on His name, turn from your sins and trust in Jesus.