8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. 9 The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works. (Psalm 145:8–9, NKJV)
God embodies the fullness of grace, compassion and mercy. He is longsuffering toward sinners, for He wishes our salvation, not our eternal demise (2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 18:32; 1 Tim. 2:3-4). The goodness God shows us is evidence of His mercy, and is an incentive to repent of every sin we have committed against Him (Rom. 2:4). Do not take God’s “slowness to anger” as indifference, toleration or acceptance of sin; it is not. Instead, find His merciful grace through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9). His anger is stirred by sin. When God’s righteous judgment comes, there will be no escape (Rom. 2:3-6). Praise God for His compassion and mercy. Honor Him for His goodness. Serve Him with a ready faith.
1 Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? … 5 “He who does not put out his money at usury, Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15:1, 5, NKJV)
The righteous person’s values are as unshakable as is his devotion to have fellowship with the Lord God. He is compassionate, not covetous, and he honors justice. Unlike the modern sense of exorbitant interest, usury here is simply interest; the sum of money charged for a loan. The law of Moses prohibited charging interest to a brother and the poor among them (Exo. 22:25; Deut. 23:19-20). The one who abides in God’s presence lends without expectation of return (cf. Lk. 14:11-14). Neither does he profit at the expense of justice for the innocent. And so, mercy and justice are among the values recognized by God as worthy of His presence. In a world driven by greedy ambition, be careful to “do justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
13 Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely. 14 They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ When there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:13–14, NKJV)
God’s people were thoroughly corrupted by covetousness during the days of Jeremiah. Greed and lust for personal gain had so warped the hearts of Judah that they would not listen to God’s prophet calling them back to the old paths of truth. The trumpet sound warning of divine punishment had on effect; they would not listen (Jer. 6:16-17). They rejected God’s law, preferring the message of corrupt prophets and priests who assured them of peace when there was no peace with God because of their sins (Jer. 6:19). Sin blinds us. Sin deceives us. Sin hardens our heart and corrupts our soul. What will drive you today: Personal gain, or personal peace with God? Do not be deceived by the passing peace sin seemingly provides; “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21). Return to the Lord, and receive His mercy. He will abundantly pardon and give true peace (Isa. 55:7; 57:19).
12 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. 14 Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him— A grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? (Joel 2:12–14, NKJV)
The southern kingdom of Judah faced the “great and very terrible” “day of the Lord” – God’s approaching judgment against her sins in the form of an invading army of locust (Joel 2:11; 1:4-7; 2:1-11). Joel’s prediction of imminent judgment is followed by this call to repent and return to God. The prospect of judgment is a reason to repent and turn back to God (Acts 17:30-31). It is not easy to repent. One must turn the heart totally back to God. To accomplish this, the heart must be crushed by the weight and gravity of its own sin: “fasting…weeping…mourning” indicates the contrite heart that is ready to change and fully turn to God. Only with a contrite heart can we “return to the Lord your God” and expect His gracious mercy to replace judgment with blessing.
12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, 13 although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. 14 And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 1:12–14, NKJV)
The amazing grace of God in Christ Jesus is on full display in the conversion of Saul and in his appointment as an apostle. As we reflect on the sins of Saul and the wonderful mercy he obtained in Christ, we are confident the Lord will forgive every sinner who calls on His name (1 Tim. 1:15-16; Acts 2:21, 37-41). We are also compelled to ponder how (or whether) we forgive those who sin against us. How tragically unrealistic it is to expect God’s wonderful mercy and grace to forgive our sins when we are unwilling to forgive others (Matt. 6:14-15). Today, remember this faith-challenging promise, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt. 5:7). Be merciful to others and live in the mercy of God.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23:6, NKJV)
Having just described the Lord as his Host, even when surrounded by enemies, David now expands his hopeful joy in the Lord to include all the days of his life as well as the ages to come. With the Lord as his Shepherd, David would not lack God’s goodness and mercy, the fullest expression of which will be realized in heaven. We should remember that David chose to follow the Lord; this Shepherd did not force David to follow Him. Abundant eternal life is assured to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ the Lord and follow Him: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (Jno. 10:27). Allow the Lord to be your Shepherd and be abundantly supplied with eternal life. Hear His voice and follow Him.
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10–13, NKJV)
I need God’s mercy, and so do you. We all do, because having sinned, we deserve death (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Yet, the simple lesson of loving others as God has loved us was lost on the Pharisees – and on some Christians even now (1 Jno. 4:11). Jesus did not tell these sinners, “you get what you “deserve”. Instead, He showed heaven’s love and taught them of heaven’s mercy. Jesus did not cast aside sinners. Neither did He coddle them, condone their transgressions or compromise with their sin. Jesus called sinners to repentance by teaching them God’s truth (v. 13; Lk. 15:1-7). We must this kind of mercy to sinners, remembering it is God’s mercy that saves us that He expects us to show to others. “So it is that Jesus looks for the self-satisfied Pharisees to show compassion to the outcasts instead of rejecting them so firmly” (Leon Morris, The Gospel according to Matthew, 222, Eerdmans).
21 “And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.” (Luke 15:21–24, NKJV)
God’s mercy and joy over one sinner who repents is on clear display in the parable of the prodigal son. What is equally observed is the wasteful son’s repentance that prompted him to return to his father and humbly confess his sins. God is ready to show mercy and forgive every sin; of that there is no doubt. When we sin against God, the probing question is whether we will recognize our terrible spiritual condition, humble ourselves before God and repent (Lk. 15:14-19). We must take personal responsibility for our sins. We cannot blame our sins on others. When personal accountability for our sin is coupled with godly sorrow, we can move forward to repent and receive the merciful forgiveness of God (2 Cor. 7:10).
Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD— Your salvation according to Your word. (Psalm 119:41)
God is rich in mercy to all who call upon Him (Eph. 2:4; Rom. 10:12). Yet, we must not miss this crucial point: His merciful salvation comes to us according to His word. We cannot expect God to have mercy and save us when we refuse His word. It is “the gospel of the grace of God”, “the word of His grace”, by which we obtain and retain God’s mercy that delivers us from sin and evil (Acts 20:24, 32). Instead of claiming God’s mercy while resisting God’s word, allow God’s mercies to come to you by yielding in faithful obedience to His word. Truly, God’s word is “the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (Eph. 1:13).
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10-13)
Some use the fact that Jesus ate “sinners” to justify not explaining sin to the sinner. (One might recall that every person Jesus ate with was a “sinner”, since “all have sinned”!). The issue is not that Jesus ate with sinners, but rather what did Jesus do when He ate with sinners? Did He ignore their sin? No. Did He redefine their sin? No. Did He rationalize their sin? No. Jesus identified their sin, presented Himself and His truth as the solution to their sin, and called the sinners to repent of their sins. Thus, the Son of God shows us the meaning of the mercy he desires us to show those lost in sin. As our Master did, let us call sinners to repentance, pointing them to Jesus, the Savior of the world.