Tuesday, April 9, 2013

“The Delight of Mercy”

(Thanks to Bill Shakespeare and Barnard Fife for inspiration on this one.)

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”

(From “The Merchant of Venice” – William Shakespeake,
quoted by Barney Fife)
“He delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18).

    We never have to drag forgiveness from God’s heart, so long as we come by the way of mercy He made for us in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    “We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

     Mercy is foreign to the flesh of man.  “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 55:8).  Were it not for the influence of the Holy Spirit in the world, the tooth and the claw would govern every relationship between people.  The very concept of forgiveness would be unknown and the practice thereof completely absent from our dealings with each other.  Indeed, the initial response of vengeance we all feel when hurt or offended would be universally carried out to the extreme if God’s tempering presence were removed from humanity’s interactions with each other.

     Conversely, and sublimely wonderfully, our Heavenly Father’s heart flows with the current of mercy. 

    “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow toanger, and of great mercy” (Psalm 145:8).

    Few verses in Scripture should drive us to our knees and faces more than the Psalmist’s affirmation of God’s abundantly forgiving nature, or of the prophet’s affirmation that to the degree humanity innately despises mercy, the Lord “delighteth in mercy.”  God loves to forgive, so much so that He gave His beloved Son to a cross of shame, torture, forsakenness and death in order to make possible the gift of pardon.  Indeed, every act of Divine mercy ever bestowed flows from Calvary’s bloody fount of freely given grace.  Theshadow of the cross, as it were, made possible forgiveness before the Lord’s death to those who trusted in a coming Deliverer.  The substance of the cross now provides for all who look back to the dying Lamb whose offering of Himself was so perfect in atoning for sin that the writer of Hebrews exults, “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).

     Shakespeare’s poetry speaks to our Lord’s propensity.  He does not strain in heart to offer forgiveness.  It is His nature, His character, His way.  Moreover, His bestowal is “twice blessed” because we can be certain that God loves to forgive as much, or more, than we love to be forgiven.  Calvary ever sings its hymn of mercy to us with a joyful Voice of willingness and even more, of delight in mercy.  May we ever hear, responding with a bowed head of gratitude, and a submitted heart of seeking to serve as a tributary to others of the River of mercy that graces us in Christ.

“For His merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.”
(Psalm 117:2)

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