According to Leviticus 20:10 I should be dead.
“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.”
Hey, at least in this instance, both parties die. Not just the woman. Like the religious leaders who would have happily stoned the woman caught in adultery they pridefully brought to Jesus…the woman who Jesus showed mercy to and told her to go sin no more…not denying the sin committed but trusting that His mercy would set things right in her life.
But do we know? Do we know His mercy caused her to go out and as long as it depended on her, make things right… and then go do right?
We don’t know. And how we feel about not knowing can reveal what we really think about this merciful Jesus.
I love talking about grace, and most people I know love talking about it. What’s there not to love about grace? It saves us, empowers us and leads us home. Grace truly is amazing.
Mercy isn’t as fun to talk about. In fact, some leave it out of their vocabulary and put grace in its place. Mercy isn’t as easily defined or as easily accepted. It makes sense to us that people should get what they deserve. Sometimes it’s hard to break mercy down…explaining that mercy isn’t void of truth or consequences, but in fact, can be seen more clearly when we take ownership of our sin and face our consequences with gratefulness.
For instance, I have a family member in prison. He deserves to be in prison. Prison is a consequence for him. But in prison, God’s grace woke him up to the deception and sin he had been living in. He repented and took ownership of his behavior without excuses or blaming others. He has given His life to Christ and living freer than when he lived outside of prison. Instead of being hardened in prison, he softened.
That’s what mercy does. It doesn’t take away consequences but it softens us in them.
Our hearts are hardened to some degree when we sin…against God and others.
A hardened heart leads us to temporarily alleviate our own suffering at the expense of hurting others. However, when the veil of deception is lifted, we experience the emotional pain of how our selfishness hurt others and deepened our own pain. We will then feel genuine sorrow over the pain we caused.
Romans 2:4 helps us understand the beauty of God’s mercy and helps us understand our response or lack of.
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?”
God’s kindness…His mercy is meant to lead us somewhere.
To repentance. A change of heart, mind and behavior.
Mercy contains within it a power that will lead us to change from the inside out, whether in prison or at home.
What Romans 2:4 is asking us is… do you think that God’s kindness towards you is weak and powerless? Do you take it lightly that He wants to heal you, set you free and transform you from the inside out from a place of mercy instead of the judgment you deserve?
God has no hidden motives in being kind. He tells us why He’s kind and merciful. To lead us to a life that will believe Him and live in the fullness of all He has for us.
God didn’t lead my family member to prison. He led himself there by his behavior. Once in prison, God’s kindness came in and led my family member to repent. God’s mercy awakened his hardened, deceived and unbelieving heart, and it changed his mind about what he had done.
Mercy can’t be thrown around like a quick fix to real pain and betrayal, nor can it be minimized if we want to enter into the joy of having a merciful heart.
Jesus knows about mercy more than any of us. He forgave His enemies from the Cross; the place of deepest pain and betrayal, saying, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” Our Pastor said Sunday that Jesus’s betrayers obviously knew what they were doing but they did not understand the implications of what they were doing. Nor did they fully know who Jesus was.
I have said this many times and I will keep saying it…
Mercy is never a risk to the giver.
Yes, I know it feels like a risk but a risk means, “exposing to danger or harm.” Offering mercy doesn’t expose us to danger or harm. Mercy frees us. It allows our hearts to live in the fullness of all God has for us no matter if the mercy we make available is received or rejected.
If we truly believe that in Christ we have been given every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, we don’t need someone to receive the mercy we offer to make our lives whole. Yes, it may hurt if they reject it, but only because we want to see them healed. There is also no hope for a restored relationship. (There is real pain in this reality and healing takes time.)
We do want to see them healed, don’t we?
Do we want to see those who hurt us, healed? Because if they are not healed and transformed by the power of God’s mercy, they will hurt you and others again.
Until I was healed in the area I was living in deception in, I would have kept hurting others and myself. It’s just true for everyone.
Whether it’s a person who has crossed the line with hurtful behaviors or the person who lives with a locked up bitter heart, God wants to heal us.
When God forms a merciful heart in us, we are able to give the same gift Christ gave us. Not with mere words or from a place of duty, but with a sincere heart that’s been touched by His. We will begin to feel the tenderness of Christ and the price He paid to let His mercy draw us into a changed life. We will no longer classify sin (Though we can’t deny some sin brings more pain and consequences) but see that all sin we commit misses the mark of loving God and others the way Jesus dd.
I really hope the woman who has brought before the crowd to be stoned in Jesus day was transformed by the love and mercy of Jesus; that she repented and lived a changed life. I hope she didn’t keep trying to fill the void in her heart in ways that only perpetuated the pain she was already in. And I hope the men that would have ruthlessly stoned her repented of their own pride and arrogance. I really, really hope there was a happy ending, even if recovery took years…
Mercy awakens us to the truth of God’s love and changes us from the inside out- no more hypocrisy or faking it…but judgment is reserved for those who stay unaware of their need for mercy, never repenting but only making excuses and blaming others. Does this make you feel sad? I cry over it. I don’t know where I would be today if I wouldn’t have awakened to the depths of God’s love and mercy for me. It is what gave me the courage to look deep …it was the light that came in and showed me my brokenness and His jealous compassion to heal me.
Broken people break things…I know there’s lots of cute cliché’s about being broken and I understand those thoughts but God came to heal brokenness. There is no shame in being broken and there is no excuse to stay broken…yes, it’s a process…a journey and messier than we can sometimes handle, but healing is our portion in Christ.
Heal on friends. Hold on to Jesus…wrestle like Jacob did and refuse to believe that brokenness is holiness. Don’t take that to the extreme and cover up your brokenness to look holy, but know that God is so very kind and will never turn us away in our brokenness but will heal us.
Healed to be healers.