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Posts Tagged ‘Romans 5:8’

Mercy is a gift. It is undeserved. (1)

With common compassion we redefine words and concepts, using them to please the longings of our hearts.  Mercy, along with grace and justice, are three words which we commonly misuse.

Justice is giving people what they deserve.

Mercy is not giving people what they deserve.

Grace is giving people what they do not deserve.

Consider this scenario:

If a young boy steals a pound of hamburger meat and 5 pounds of potatoes from the grocer, justice is served if the boy is fined and required to pay the grocer for the food.

However, if the grocer learns the boy stole the food to feed his penniless family, then mercy is served if the grocer refuses to press charges against the boy.

If the grocer goes a step further and provides the penniless family with $500 of free groceries, then grace has been served.

Justice is always deserved, mercy and grace are always undeserved.  Mercy and grace are gifts, justice is a consequence.

With this being so, how can we say that God is a God of justice, mercy, and grace?

God is just because all sin is justly punished.

God is merciful because He chose not to inflict the punishment upon the sinner, but upon Jesus.

God is gracious because He forgives us and offers us eternal life, even when we sin.

Christians worship a God who serves justice, mercy, and grace this way:

God is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He does not forsake the sinner.  God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for our sins.  (2)

This is the Good News of the Gospel.

This is news we do not deserve!

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  1. Blackaby, Richard (2006-12-01). Experiencing God Day By Day (Kindle Locations 3084-3085). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
  2. Nehemiah 9:17 and Romans 5:8.
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The greatest measuring rod of love 

in the life of a Christian is forgiveness. (1)

 

My counseling load has been on the upswing lately.  

My Christian brothers and sisters are experiencing amnesia.  They can pray “Forgive us our debts …” but cannot find it in their hearts to forgive.  

It makes counseling a futile exercise.  

I have considered posting this positive reminder on my office door:

Counseling works for those willing to forgive!

My counseling load continues to pile up with little or no progress. Everyone wants to be forgiven, but few are willing to forgive.

Jesus spoke about this frequently, but few people listen.  

Jesus also practiced what he preached:

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (2)

I have had people say to me, “I’d rather die than forgive them!”

This explains why the world is filled with so many angry people.

It won’t kill you to forgive someone, but nursing a grudge will.

Forgiveness heals.  Anger kills.

My counseling load is killing me.

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  1. John MacArthur, Truth for Today : A Daily Touch of God’s Grace (Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman, 2001), 191.
  2. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 5:8.

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Life is full of sore testings of our willingness 

to follow the Good Shepherd. (1)  

The greatest of these testings is forgiveness.

We have a limited understanding of forgiveness.  We believe it is grace to be offered only after confession and regret have been spoken.  We believe forgiveness is necessary and possible after only after someone has apologized for hurting us.

This is not God’s way.  

Scripture reminds us that God chose us, loved us, and forgave us while we were still yet sinners. Paul reaffirms God’s love for us and His way of forgiveness in Romans 5:8:

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (2)

This is where God’s way tests us.  

We believe that forgiveness is an earned grace.  

Instead, God’s forgiveness is an unearned grace.

Even if we understand the meaning of this truth in our heads, our hearts find it to be alien material.  This is why we have a hard time forgiving others, extending to them the unearned grace of forgiveness.

We cannot offer forgiveness as unearned grace by our own strength.

If we are to be obedient to God’s way and offer others forgiveness as unearned grace, we need God’s help, His strength.  We need Him working within us.

My Jesus is dwelling in me; and now I have only to let Him work there to will and to do of His good pleasure, in order to experience all the glorious fullness of His mighty salvation! (3)

Let Christ Jesus reign within you.  Only then will He be able to rule all the motions of your heart.  Only then will extending forgiveness as unearned grace be possible.

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  1. Quote of J. R. Miller found in Samuel G. Hardman and Dwight Lyman Moody, Thoughts for the Quiet Hour (Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1998).
  2. he Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Romans 5:8.
  3. Hannah Whitall Smith and Melvin Easterday Dieter, The Christian’s Secret of a Holy Life : The Unpublished Personal Writings of Hannah Whitall Smith (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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The hardest lesson I have learned as a Christian is that God wants me to live from His love, rather than for His love.

Living for love is totally different than living from love.

If you live for love, you are acknowledging the love you desire is not yet yours.  You live in fear that if you do not do the right thing or say the right words, you will be rejected and cast aside.  Living for love is a season filled with anxiety and uncertainty.

If you are living from love, you are living secure in love which you already have.  You do not need to prove yourself worthy.  Living from love is a season filled joy and peace.

Why is this an important lesson for Christians?

Something inside of us strongly compels us to keep trying to earn God’s approval.  We would all like to be able to do something so spectacular that we could brag, “God, look what I’ve done!  I deserve your love.”  (1)

But what about the next day or week, you will be pressed to do something more incredible than the work of the week before to remain secure in His love.

Paul writes in Romans 5:8: “God loved us while we were still sinners.”

We did nothing to earn His love.  Instead He chose us and showered His gracious love upon us when we were most undeserving.

The Christian living for God’s love:

Glorifies himself, rather than God;

Relies upon himself, rather than grace.

Strives to prove self, rather than rest in peace.

Frets over each day, rather than enjoys each moment.

The day you have to prove your love to another is a day you loathe.  The day you know you are loved is a day for rejoicing.

You are not a Christian and if you are living for God’s love.

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There is nothing which can separate you from the love God,

which is yours through Christ Jesus!

Romans 8:39

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  1. Luther, Martin; Galvin, James C. (2009-05-19). Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional (p. 60). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

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