Mercy In, Mercy Out

Written on

January 28, 2019

Confession time.

I rank sins.
I judge people.
I make assumptions.
I consider myself better than others.
Somehow I think I am more deserving of God’s grace.
I am prideful.

“It’s natural to want mercy for yourself but justice for others.” -Paul David Tripp

This quote from my devotional this weekend stung.

My ladies’ Bible study was on Bathsheba last week. I found myself questioning her motives and wanting to read between the lines to judge her as a naive victim or a cunning, seductive adulteress. The scripture doesn’t tell us the condition of her heart or really even any words from her tongue, yet, I wanted to label her and decide whether or not I like her.

As we discussed her fall into temptation the following verse was brought up:

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” James 1:13-14

The very things that tempt us reveal to us what we truly desire. If we didn’t desire what tempts then it wouldn’t be tempting to us. (The desire for dark chocolate is greater than my desire to lose the weight I put on over the holidays. White chocolate is not tempting to me in the least, because I have no desire for for it.)

David and Bathsheba had a sexual desire and so found temptation in each other’s arms. If they had not desired each other, there would have been no temptation. Each of them could have recognized the desire, the temptation and then avoided the sin.

The next verse in James is this:

“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” James 1:15

David and Bathsheba’s sin resulted in a lot of death. Her husband’s, other soldiers, their baby . . . The wages of sin is always death and the consequences of sin always weigh heavy on the most innocent. Then and now.

The Holy Spirit pricked my heart in all of this. My desire to judge others is not limited to a dead queen of Israel. My desire to judge others shows the temptation I face to be prideful and self-righteous.

For example:

With many, many other evangelical Christians this week I watched with sadness as the governor of New York signed pro-abortion legislation into law. I read many, many social media posts on both sides of the issue. Feelings are understandably deep and raw.

It is natural to want justice for the loss of lives of the unborn. We are called to stand up for the weak, the vulnerable and the voiceless. My heart breaks for the babies lost to this evil . . .

But my heart also breaks for the momma who feels like she has no choice and for the woman who feels she must choose between her life and her child’s.

There are “statistics” and “facts” and “testimonies” that can all be twisted to support any side of any argument. However, as Christians, our eyes have been opened by grace alone to the truth. The god of this world, continues to blind mankind to the horrendous act of child sacrifice to the idols of convenience, greed, and fear. Our desires for these things leads to the temptation to succumb to this evil, lessoning it through “reason,” and the sin “fully grown brings forth death.”

Satan is our enemy. He is the one tempting us – not the people or governor of New York, not the victim of rape or incest, not the mother who desperately wants the baby that the test has said is not-viable.

If I am not careful, my desire to be right, to judge others, and to see myself as better than will lead me to a place of self-righteous sin. Instead, the Holy Spirit is giving me a different mindset with a fresh understanding.

I hurt for “these” people. I can’t imagine being in the position of the mother that is facing those test results – especially if she does not have the hope in Christ that I do. I want to tell them that God does not make mistakes, that He brings good out of bad things and that He still is in the business of confounding doctors and medical professionals.

It is by faith through grace alone that I have the understanding that I do. It is that same faith through grace that reminds me that my sins are just as black as the abortionist doctor. It is that same faith through grace that allows me to leave the justice I seek to God and gives me the ability to share the mercy I have been given to others.

The wages of my sin is death. God has removed my sin from me as far as the east is from the west. He has shown me extreme mercy by taking away the ultimate consequence for my sin. He took it from me and gave it to Jesus. He died in my place. I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t even know I needed it when He did it.

When I take all this into account, I am in awe . . . Like the Pharisees that slipped away, one-by-one when Jesus told them that whoever was without sin could throw the first stone at the woman caught in adultery, I know that I am the last one to condemn anyone.

When I stop and reflect on the mercy I have received, I have mercy for Bathsheba and I have mercy for all of those caught up in the abortion debate. I cannot judge or condemn. I am not any more worthy to receive His grace than anyone else.

When I contemplate the grace that God has shown me, I am motivated to extend grace to others, to whomever He brings into my life, to minister to them with the same grace and compassion He has bestowed to me. Because He continues to be faithful to show me mercy, so I too can show mercy to others who don’t deserve it either.

Tuesday I will go to my board meeting of our local crisis pregnancy center. If I am like Bathsheba and others are only left to judge me by my actions, not knowing my words or motives – my prayer is that they will not doubt the difference God’s grace and mercy have made in my life because of how I am able to show it to others.

As He forgives me for my sin, showering me with His mercy and grace, I am able to pour it out on others too. It’s not of me. It originates in Him. He gives it to me and, as a result, I can’t keep it to myself.

Mercy in, mercy out.

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