Friday, August 12, 2022
It’s been a tough summer of rollercoaster emotions. In six months I will no longer be full-time in ministry. One day I am excited about having more free time, and the next I’m overwhelmed with the desire to keep serving my Lord with every ounce of energy I have. Some days it causes me to grumble. But immediately when the internal questioning of my purpose begins the precious Lord Jesus is right there to correct me. Today I was immediately overwhelmed with the words of First Peter 1:3.
1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
Why was I grumbling about my lack of direction and purpose when I could be praising God for my permanent and living hope in Christ?
I think one reason we tend to focus on the bad things of this life rather than the blessings of our living hope is because we don’t fully understand or appreciate God’s mercy. Mercy can be defined as “not receiving the condemnation one fully deserves.” Follow me here…to be fully appreciated mercy must be understood in light of our worst offenses. Satan knows this as well. When we reach a point of full admission of our offenses, where mercy can be received, Satan energizes our pride. If we succumb to his temptation, we will choose to focus on the bad, resulting in shame and self-hate. We will grumble about what we think is hopeless rather than praise the One who has given us hope. Our pride convinces us that the pity we generate from such behavior will somehow satisfy our need for attention and recognition. We have chosen to believe that focusing on the bad will bring some form of good.
I was struck by a statement from the author of an article in Christianity Today. In her article entitled “Too Deep for Words,” Thelma Hall wrote, “Most of us seem to assume that union with God is attained by laboriously ascending a ladder of virtues, which finally fashion our holiness and make us fit for him. In truth, the reverse is far more accurate: the great saints have been those who fully accepted God’s love for them. It is this which makes everything else possible. Our incredulity in the face of God’s immense love, and also self-hate or an unyielding sense of guilt, can be formidable obstacles to God’s love, and are often subtle and unrecognized forms of pride, in putting our “bad” above His mercy.”
In contrast to our usual attitudes, I want you to notice the Apostle Paul’s attitude towards all of his “bad”. He had this attitude because he understood mercy. Read carefully the following contrasts between sin and mercy and see if they don’t challenge your attitudes as they did mine.
“At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)
“Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:13-17)
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:3-7)
Now, let’s adjust our attitudes so that we begin expressing praise for the life we have in Christ because of His mercy, rather than grumbling about what’s wrong with life.