God's mercy. Something I definitely don't understand, although I've experienced it firsthand. I think of the many times I've relegated my Heavenly Father to the position of co-pilot, thinking I would make a better pilot than He. My plane quickly gets off-course. As the storm clouds begin to gather, I realize my mistake. After taking a nose dive, I come face to face with my stupidity, asking forgiveness and once again relinquishing the controls to the One who knows best, my Creator. He hears my cries, and in His mercy, pardons my sin.
I have a tendency to categorize sins. You know, the white lie is no big deal, but murdering someone is huge. In God's economy, sin is sin. There aren't different degrees of sin. Each one of us stands guilty. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God," (Romans 3:23; KJV).
The payment for sin is eternal separation from God, in a place called Hell. Amazingly, God loved us so much, that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins. When He shed His blood and died on the cross at Calvary, the debt was paid.
The transaction is complete when we place our faith in Christ's finished work. The Apostle Paul spells it out in his letter to the Romans, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation," (Romans 10:9-10). No longer do we owe a debt we can't pay. Because of God's mercy, our account is stamped, "Paid In Full," and we're able to spend an eternity with Him in Heaven after we die.
Mercy is a shimmering thread throughout the Bible. The Old Testament book of Chronicles includes the life stories of several of the kings of both Judah and Jerusalem. Deeds, both good and evil, are recorded for all to see. Manasseh's 55-year reign is covered in just 20 verses. Early on, we read about his wickedness, he, "...did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel," (2 Chronicles 33:2). He promoted the worship of false gods, and sacrificed his children to idols. Manasseh appears to be evil personified, "...also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger," (2 Chronicles 33:6b).
Even in his wrath, the Lord showed mercy. He urged Manasseh and his people to repent. But the king and the people refused to listen. The Lord had no choice but to judge them. The Assyrians invaded the land, and Manasseh was carried away to Babylon. At this point in the chapter, I can't say I feel the least bit sorry for him. He had it coming, right? The next part of the story astounds me.
Verses twelve and thirteen record an amazing change of heart on the part of Manasseh. "And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God." Did you catch that? When Manasseh humbled himself and repented, the Lord heard him and granted him mercy, allowing him to return to his throne.
God's mercy is available to all. Regardless of what you've done, He's just waiting for you to cry out to Him with a humble, repentant heart. Resist the pride that would grab for control, and allow the Lord to guide your life. When the Lord is given His proper place, you'll be able to say with the Psalmist David, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..." (Psalm 23:6a).
Does anything need to change in your life in order for you to experience God's mercy? Are you willing to make the necessary changes?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You that Your mercies are new every morning! I'm grateful for the many examples in Your Word that help me avoid sin. When I do succumb to temptation, help me to cry out to You in humility and repentance. In Jesus' name, Amen.