Mercy 9: Merciful Memory
‘Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance, and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?’ (Romans 2:4)
Sinners’ contempt for holiness can tempt us to disdain. We can close up the ark of our hearts, pronouncing judgment on the rebels. Or we can open our hearts and ask God to have mercy on them. It helps to remember the mercy He had for us in our contemptuous ways.
I am reduced to tears whenever I read Luke 18: 9-14, the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Luke wrote it specifically for those who ‘were confident of their own righteousness.’ He describes a Pharisee whose prayer is ‘about himself’ (v. 11): a hymn to his native virtue that sets him apart from obvious sinners.
In the glare of that verse I am exposed. Chaste now for years and oriented squarely toward my wife and adult kids, I am tempted to view that holiness as a product of my good choices, not ‘His kindness, forbearance, and patience.’ (Romans 2: 4) Such distortion primes me for unholy judgments toward the lost. Wow. Have I forgotten His kindness towards me when I strutted with the worst of them? Do I lose sight of the quiet sins I still commit: little ones like murder, hatred and lust of heart?
Mercy prompts me to remember the torturous fear that ‘this time I had gone too far’. And the generous wave of blood and water that rolled like a river on my pathetic life, serving justice through Love alone.
While the Pharisee prayed smug self-congratulations, the tax collector could only cry out: ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ (v. 13) God heard him because of his awareness of the gap that only God can fill. My prayer? Help me to remember that gap, Jesus. And the mercy that made all the difference.
Desert Stream/Living Waters: New York/New Jersey, Garry & Melissa Ingraham, Regional Coordinators. Please pray for the Ingrahams as they work to strengthen Living Waters and help start new groups throughout the NY/NJ area.
Restored Hope Network: The Portland Fellowship, Portland, OR. Jason Thompson, Director. Specialty: curriculum for struggling adults and youth, family and friends, wives/spouses, and speaking outreach. Carolina New Song, Columbia, SC. Bud Phaup, Director. Specialty: groups for men and families.
Courage: Please pray for those on the verge of assuming a gay identity and /or acting on their SSA, may God illuminate their minds and fill their hearts with His love.
Cor Project: Please pray that we would have the financial resources necessary to fulfill our mission.