“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” Ephesians 2:4
I love this verse. I love the whole chapter, actually, but this one verse grabs me the hardest every time. The verses leading up to it paint a dark picture and a concept that is easy for me to wrap my head around. It’s a pretty simple, yet entirely accurate, description of me and every other person you’ll ever encounter. There stands a sinner and wretch. Everything about her is unlovely – her thoughts, her words, and her actions. In fact, she has nothing good to offer at all. She’s wrapped in heavy chains and enslaved by a master who has no intentions of ever being good to anyone. She’s pitiful. To make matters worse, she’s a willing participant of her master’s schemes and she deserves every one of the consequences that will result from them, which makes her pathetic and hopeless. At least, she should be without hope.
Every time my eyes fall on those first two words, it makes me stop. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was undeserved hope. A rescuer reached in and stopped the chain of events that should have played out, much like one who places his finger in the middle of a series of falling dominoes, preventing the rest from toppling over. I made that mess and I deserved its punishment, “but God” intervened with something different. He stepped in, armed with mercy and love. And it wasn’t a modest amount of mercy and love, either. It was a love and mercy that apparently knew no bounds. As Matthew Henry describes it, “that love of God is great love, and that mercy of his is rich mercy, inexpressibly great and inexhaustibly rich.”
The crazy thing is that his mercy and love weren’t completely spent up at the cross. He still has more somehow, and he shows it regularly.
It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness Lamentations 3:22-23.
This isn’t a concept that I’m just regurgitating because it sounds good and it’s scriptural. I really have become familiar with his day-to-day mercy because I’m actually pretty good at giving Him opportunities to demonstrate it. I am an expert mess-maker. Sometimes, I make really big messes that make people ask, “Aren’t you a Christian?” and make me wonder why in the world God doesn’t just scrap me. I still get all tangled up at times – yet, for some reason, he keeps untangling me.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an advocate for the mentality that we can just keep being who we are and doing what we want and God will turn a blind eye because he’s a God of mercy.I know that he’s not so merciful that it robs him of his ability to be just and righteous. I’m aware of the fact that each of his character qualities are in perfect balance – none detracts from another. But I’m also aware of the fact that there have been times when my choices should have ruined me. If God had chosen to stop using me, I couldn’t fault him for it. But he spares me a great deal of the time, and I’m sure I don’t even know the half of it.
Pausing to recognize his mercy in our lives should only fill our hearts with thankfulness. Our old master would love for us to either use it as an excuse to keep up our old habits, or simply allow the shame to keep us from running back for forgiveness. He doesn’t care how he gets us, as long as our perspective is warped. Don’t fall for it, though. Allow God’s love to motivate you to live a life that pleases him. Allow his love to fill you with a desire to demonstrate love back to him.
“We love him, because he first loved us.” I John 4:19