Wednesday, January 23, 2019
Luke 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
On five different occasions Jesus used the word grace to describe a characteristic of his disciples. Yesterday we defined this term “grace” as “the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life.” If not for the grace of God visited upon us we would only express the desires and choices of a sinful nature. But by the grace of God we are capable of spiritual expressions of a Godly nature.
Luke 6:36 concludes a statement by Jesus that contrasts the life of a person influenced by human nature with the life of a person under the divine influence of grace. Here’s the literal translation of what Jesus said.
If you love those who love you, what sort of divine influence on your heart is being reflected to the world? Even “sinners” love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what sort of divine influence upon your heart is being reflected to the world? Even those without Christ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what sort of divine influence upon your heart is being reflected to the world? Even “sinners” lend to “sinners” expecting to be repaid in full. The divine influence of Christ on your heart will result in mercy, the same way your Father is merciful.
When we read Scripture with the full understanding of what the words mean it brings a floodlight of truth onto our hearts. We cannot take any credit for being filled with the grace of God when we treat other people in the same way as those who are filled with sin. The divine influence upon our lives will fill us with acts of mercy and we will reflect the nature of God Himself.
What is the connection between grace and mercy? Simple definitions help us to understand. Grace is simply receiving what we do not deserve: mercy is not receiving what we do deserve.
As sinful humans, separated from God, we deserve eternal punishment. But in His great mercy He has removed our punishment from us because His justice was satisfied in the death of Jesus on the cross. Then, still undeserving of eternal life as God’s child, by grace we are given the righteousness of Christ so that God accepts us as perfect.
The Divine Influence of God’s nature upon our heart will be reflected in our actions towards sinful people. God’s mercy in us allows us to not judge their sin and force upon them what we believe they deserve. Instead, we grant forgiveness to them, just as we have been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ.
When filled with God’s grace we will act mercifully to those around us. We will not hold them to the letter of the law and its condemnation, but rather we will hold them with the law of love and its confirmation.
Dr. James Dobson reports seeing a sign on a convent in Southern California reading: “Absolutely No Trespassing – Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law!” Signed, “The Sisters of Mercy.”
Don’t let your life be a reflection of the law. Let your life be filled with God’s grace, so that His Divine Influence will be reflected in merciful actions towards all people.