Monday, October 22, 2012

“Vessels of Mercy”

    Left to itself, the tooth and the claw govern the human race, a sad truth that ultimate resulted in the savage murder of its Creator.
    “God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:13).
     “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23).
    Conversely, left to Himself, the Garden and the Cross govern the heart of God, ultimately resulting in the giving of His Son to a torturous and forsaken death for those who rebelled against Him.

     “He was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, saying, Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not My will, but Thine, be done.  And there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening him.  And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:41-44).
     “Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8).

     Whereas murder dwells in the flesh of sinful humanity, mercy characterizes the heart of righteous Divinity.  The first offspring of Adam and Eve slew his brother for, of all things, religious reasons (Genesis 4:3-8).  The subsequent history of the human race proceeds until this hour in the hateful quest for a vengeance so ingrained in our earthly disposition that we would ultimately destroy ourselves, were it not for God’s gracious termination of sinful humanity’s bloody sojourn upon the earth.   “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh  be saved” (Matthew 24:22).   The Lord, on the other hand, longs to bestow grace upon all, reserving His wrath and vengeance only for those who stubbornly refuse to receive His overtures of love in Christ.  Indeed, the One most sinned against offers terms of peace to all, having made such reconciliation possible at the highest cost to Himself.

     In matters of mercy, how different are we than God!  Thankfully, the new birth reconstitutes born again believers as “vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23).  First, we receive our Lord’s free pardon and forgiveness.  Then, He undertakes a work in us to make us conveyors as well as recipients of mercy.  Our flesh lusts against such Divine sensibility, but the Holy Spirit works in us “both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).  Thereby we increasingly discover the joy of mercy that governs the heart of God – “He delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18).  Our Heavenly Father loves to forgive, and He loves to transform those so innately different than Himself into those who share the same heart for blessing those who curse us.  “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

    That which begins in the worship of God for His mercy proceeds to a walk with God in His mercy.  Indeed, we must question any supposed Christian experience that does not include the dynamic and incessant working of the Holy Spirit to instill this quality in us.  Believers are “vessels of mercy” – mercy received and mercy bestowed.  The Lord so different than ourselves works to make us like Himself.  He could do nothing more wonderful for us, in us, or through us.

“The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy.”
(James 3:17)

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