Dear Hope family,

Thought for the Week

Living with Mercy

1 Timothy 1v13 & 16 “I was shown mercy.”

This is Paul’s testimony, “I was shown mercy”. This experience is so central to his life-story that he repeats it twice in four verses!

Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm” (Oxford Languages Dictionary).

Here is the reality: God offers us his compassion and forgiveness when he could have punished us. For those of us who are born again, we have received that compassion and forgiveness. As the Psalmist says, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve,” Psalm 103v10. God is able to justly do this because Jesus took all my sin on the cross. He bore the punishment in my place. Now, my heavenly Father turns to me and welcomes me with a smile and arms stretched out. Where Jesus said “My God, why have you forsaken me”, my Father says “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is not just good news, it is “unbelievably” good news. Maybe a better word is “ridiculously” good news! Where God could have punished me, he chose to rescue me. Why? Was it because I was great or able to achieve some great thing for him? No, it was simply because “The LORD loved you” (Deuteronomy 7v8). There is nothing that merited his favour, but he has shown it.

What does this mean for me today? Well, first of all there is every reason to rejoice, celebrate and be glad! But there is also a consequence in our daily lives: Paul says “In view of God’s mercy…” as he introduces how we should live in Romans 12v1, and Jesus tells us the same in a parable in Luke 18. In Jesus’ parable a person owes millions, yet the master forgives the debt; but afterwards the person goes away and demands payment from someone who owes them a few notes. Jesus outright condemns such lack of mercy when we have been shown such mercy.

In the natural, we want some justice, and we want it now. But in Christ, we have been shown mercy and we are called to follow in His way of showing mercy too. We “do not pay back evil with evil” (Romans 12v17), but rather return evil with good. Why can we do this? Because we now live in the kingdom of mercy and we can leave any avenging to God (Romans 12v19).

Lord, help me to understand and appreciate your mercy towards me, fill me with the joy of your salvation, and enable me to show mercy to all those around me.

With love and blessing,