"Matters of Mercy"
Is it possible for believers to act as "the vessels of mercy" we are, that is, to not only receive forgiveness through the Lord Jesus Christ, but to consistently bestow it upon those who hurt and offend us? (Romans 9:23).
"Christ… when He was reviled, reviled not again. When He suffered, He threatened not… Walk, even as He walked" (I Peter 2:21; 23; I John 2:6).
The Biblical answer is yes. Our Lord serves not only as the example of merciful response, but as the empowerment thereof. The Spirit of the Lord Jesus can motivate and enable us to bestow grace upon those who act in spite toward God and ourselves. Upon His very cross, the Lord Jesus prayed for those who despitefully used Him, paving the path of mercy He calls us to walk (Luke 23:34; Matthew 5:44). This is not human, except in the case of the Christ in whom both Divinity and humanity unites in the mystery of "God… manifest in the flesh" (I Timothy 3:16). Or, in the case of those in whom Christ now lives to enable the same quality of character, nature, and way. "I will dwell in them and walk in them" (II Corinthians 6:16). Our Heavenly Father promises to believers a life that overcomes and transcends our human impulses and tendencies. He works all things together in our lives for the sublime purpose of conforming us to the spiritual and moral image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29).
Upon first consideration of such Truth, we must fall to our faces in bewilderment. "Impossible! I can never be like Him, especially in matters of mercy and forgiveness!" This is absolutely the case, if we merely consider ourselves and our native human tendencies. No believer can possibly make Himself like a Christ so wondrous in spiritual and moral purity that the Apostle John fell as dead at the Lord's feet upon seeing Him in glory (Revelation 1:17). We must therefore consider God and His native Divine tendencies. "We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10). No Christian fails to "walk, even as He walked" because we do not make ourselves like the Lord Jesus. If we fail, we do so because we do not trust and submit ourselves to the God who alone conforms us to the image of the Lord Jesus. Christlikeness originates in our Father's promised and faithful working. It flows freely in those who believe in such promise and faithfulness, thus remaining near to the purifying flame of "His workmanship." Certainly this includes those "matters of mercy and forgiveness" far beyond our human abilities, but well within the scope of Christ's indwelling presence in our hearts.
Is the Lord present, able, and willing to enable in us the same quality of life He lived? Can we forgive as He forgave? How we answer these questions will go far in determining whether we we live in the light of the only correct answers. We can bestow mercy, even as we have received mercy. "Through Christ" provides the motivation and enabling (Philippians 4:13). Our calling involves the chosen confidence to affirm that our Lord is no less the source of forgiveness we bestow than the forgiveness we receive.
"Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any, even as Christ also forgave you, so also do ye."
"God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him."
(I John 4:9)
Weekly Memory Verse
Now unto God and our Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.