06/03

Mercy for Me

“…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24

I’m one of those kids that was brought up in church and taught to keep the rules. I tried my best to live between the lines and to do the right thing. I grew up and married a preacher and went to Bible school. I served God and people the best I knew how. I desired for God to use me, but God knew I needed to overcome a few things first. God let me go in my own strength for awhile, knowing that eventually I would come to a place where I realized how messed up I was and how much I needed His mercy in my life. I went through some devastating times, but after the storm passed, instead of standing on my own two feet, I found myself being wrapped in God’s arms. It was a good place to be.

Apostle Paul shared how mercy messed with his goodness in Philippians 3. Paul lived life according to the rulebook. He became a leader in the Jewish faith. Even when imprisoning Christians, he did so thinking he was protecting Israel from accepting a false Messiah. Paul said that he considered all his good acts to be rubbish, nothing of value. What was valuable to Him was receiving the mercy of God and sharing that mercy message with others (I Timothy 1:12-15).

The greatest hurdle to overcome in receiving mercy is pride- maybe not an attitude of superiority over others, but a pride that wants to be able to stand in our own strength. When I went through being broken, I realized that I celebrated God’s mercy for others, but I struggled with receiving it for myself. In prayer, God showed me a picture of Christ handing me a white robe, but I refused to receive it, saying, “I don’t deserve it.” It broke His heart that I struggled with receiving from Him. Eventually His love overtook me and continues to overtake me, teaching me to stand in His sufficiency and not my own. In this place is where God takes us beyond ourselves and we live in the realm of His grace.

Paul celebrated mercy because he wanted people to look beyond him and see Jesus. In I Corinthians 1:26-28, Paul says that God will choose the weak in order to show Himself strong. God will choose the foolish and the despised for the purpose of making Himself known. The world needs to hear a message, but also to see a message, that God is our sufficiency. Paul’s purpose in ministry was to demonstrate the power of God, not the wisdom and ability of man. We should follow his example and live to make the name of Jesus famous.

Application: In Philippians 3:12-14 Paul says that he moved on from his past and pressed forward with the goal of making Jesus known. Who are we to live any differently? There is joy in putting the focus on Him!

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