17 But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” (Luke 15:17–19, NKJV)
Pride prevents repentance and salvation from sin. It is only when we realize the depth of our sin against our Father in heaven, that we become willing to entertain the thought of returning to Him in search of His compassionate forgiveness. God is always ready to give it. Just as a father whose child has wandered far away from him, wasting the blessings of the father’s love, God is always ready to receive and forgive the sinner who repents and abandons sin with a servant heart. There is no doubt that God compassionately forgives repentant sinners. The real question is, when we sin, will you and I humble ourselves before God, repent, and come to Him and cast ourselves upon His mercy?
1 Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! 2 For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 117:1–2, NKJV)
This brief psalm drives to the heart of why all people should triumphantly praise Jehovah. The stated reasons are, (1) Because of His mercy, and (2) Because of His truth. God’s mercy protected the nation of Israel over and over throughout their history. God’s truth denotes the integrity of His promises (especially those made to Abraham and David), as well as the revelation of His truth. God offers all sinners (whether Gentiles or Jews) His mercy and His truth in Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8-9). Of all the reasons to praise God, His mercy toward sinners and His unwavering truth are at the heart of why we do so. Without God’s mercy, we would all perish in sin (Titus 3:4-5; Eph. 2:4-5). Without God’s truth, we would not know God’s purposes for us, nor could we be freed from our sins (John 8:31-32). Notably, mercy and truth go together; they are fully present and fully obtained in Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18).
3 If You, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared. (Psalm 130:3–4, NKJV)
The Bible is very plain, that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This makes it apparent that without God’s mercy and forgiveness, none of us could stand justified before Him. Only the sinless person would earn the right to be counted just before God on his own merits. Since all have sinned, that is a moot point. The gospel message is that God has purposed and provided a means of human redemption. God is abundant in loving kindness and will forgive all who call on His name (Acts 2:21, 37-41; 22:16). When by faith, the sinner confesses his faith, repents and is baptized for the remission of sins, his sins are forgiven. The forgiveness we have from God moves us to live with godly fear toward Him to live holy lives (1 Pet. 1:14-17). Let us always praise God for His mercy and fear Him for the forgiveness we have from Him.
5 Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. 6 The Lord lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground… 10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. 11 The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” (Psalm 147:5–6, 10–11, NKJV)
God’s power and wisdom is unbounded. He does not act as we humans. What He values and exalts is very different from the estimations given by men. He raises up and magnifies the humble of heart, while He crushes wickedness under the strength of His mighty hand. Unlike men, who put confidence in the strength of their military might and prowess, our Lord delights in those who reverence Him and trust His mercy as their salvation in time of trouble. Let us never doubt the robust power and unlimited understanding of the Lord God to provide for and protect those who humbly serve Him and faithfully trust His mercy.
4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (Psalm 100:4–5, NKJV)
One’s worshipful praise of God expresses joyful thanks for His great blessings. Adoration is due Him by all who would come into His presence. Psalm 100 is a psalm of thanksgiving unto God. All the earth is pictured serving the Lord with gladness, and coming “before His presence with singing” (v. 1-2). As our Creator, He is due the honor of thankful praise (v. 3-4). Let us come into His courts with thankful praise because of His insurmountable character by which He blesses us: 1) His goodness. God is beautiful and deserving of our complete admiration. 2) His mercy. God is unfailing in His kindness, and is ever vigilant to show mercy “to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Exo. 20:6). 3) His truth. Unfailing in its power to purify us, God’s word of truth endures forever (1 Pet. 1:22-25). God’s goodness, mercy and truth compel Christians to “enter His gates with thanksgiving” and praise His name. May we never overlook giving God the praise of thanksgiving.
Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. (Genesis 4:16, NKJV)
Cain murdered his brother Abel, “because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous” (1 Jno. 3:12). As a fugitive and a vagabond, Cain left the presence of God, finally dwelling east of Eden in the land of Nod (“wanderings”) (Gen. 4:12-16). Thus, east of Eden is used as a metaphor for a life damaged by sinful choices, of a life that is lived away from God, needing redemption. Since all of us have sinned, we have all lived “east of Eden,” wandering aimlessly in the darkness and vanity and death of sin. Yet, there is mercy available to us all who have wandered east of Eden. God gave Cain a mark to identify him, lest he be unjustly killed (Gen. 4:15). In Christ Jesus, God’s mercy is offered to the whole world (Matt. 11:28-30). Through His gospel we escape sin’s death and its punishment, and we inheritance eternal life. Stop wandering east of Eden, and come to Christ, by whom sinners are given access to the garden of God (Rev. 22:1-3, 17).
33 ‘Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ 34 And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. 35 “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:33–35, NKJV)
Forgiveness does not necessarily come easy to us. Sure, we all want the mercy of forgiveness when we have sinned against someone. But, when the shoe is on the other foot, we are tempted with urges of pride, or anger, or vengeance or other sins that build barriers against showing mercy to those who hurt and harm us. In this parable (recorded in Matthew 18:21-35), Jesus make the unmistakable point that God will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive each other from the heart. Forgiveness requires humility, as well as an appreciation of the forgiveness we have received from the Lord. What a great way to be like our heavenly Father; to forgive others like He forgives us!