Why Be Joyous, 3: Our God is a Merciful God
- 2003 30 May
There's a bit of good news today, but for the most part nothing has changed in the world...except, maybe that it's gotten worse.
Apparently, in the "name game" four out of the five top names for boys come directly from the Bible. To me, this is pretty good news.
However, in the "land of the Bible," another bomb was detonated today. That makes 95 in 32 months.
The Saudis arrested four men connected to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network. While that is good news it is precipitated and surrounded by so much bad news, it's nearly impossible to separate.
And, finally, for all of us who believe in love, Andrew Firestone proposed to a young woman named Jen-who the viewing country was rooting for-on "The Bachelor." Mazel Tov and let's hope it lasts.
Isn't it interesting that in the middle of political crises and wars, love and marriage and the joy of naming our babies goes on? In spite of the gloom and the doom, we have an irrepressible desire to continue in the hope and joy that somehow manages to squeak out of each and every day. We slip between the sheets at night hopeful that the sun will again rise in the morning and that we will rejoice in the pleasure of it.
A Look Back At Parts One & Two
In Part One of this six-part series, we began by looking at the words of Peter in 1 Peter 1:6b, 7: "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
The question is this: In what do we rejoice?
In this, Peter said. The first thing we looked at was verse 3, which reads: In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...Then, in part two, we discussed out inheritance...an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you...
So then, in what else do we rejoice?
Let's move backward a bit in the scripture. It reads in the first part of verse three: In his great mercy...
According to Peter, the things we have been given whereby we rejoice have been given to us according to God's mercy.
It has been said that "mercy" is not getting what we do deserve and "grace" (the word we so often hear associated with mercy) as getting what we don't deserve. As fantastic a definition as that is, I'd like to take a deeper look at the word Peter used for mercy, which is Eleos.
Two of the definitions for Eleos are:
a. Mercy of God towards men: in general providence; the mercy and clemency of God in providing and offering to men salvation by Christ
b. The mercy of Christ, whereby at his return to judgment he will bless true Christians with eternal life
Because of the way verse three reads, we know the mercy Peter was speaking of was the mercy, leniency and forgiveness of God the Father who sent His Son as the final required sacrifice for redemption; allowing us to be born again.
Wisdom From Wiersbe
In his book Be Right, Warren W. Wiersbe gives a detailed explanation of Romans 3: 24, which declares all men are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Wiersbe writes, "God has two kinds of attributes: absolute (what He is in Himself), and relative (how He relates to the world and men). One of His absolute attributes is love: 'God is love' (1 John 4:8). When God relates that love to you and me, it becomes grace and mercy...The Greek word translated 'freely' is translated in John 15:25 as 'without a cause'...There is no cause in us that would merit the salvation of God!"1
No cause in us...except that God loves us.
Try for a moment to imagine that kind of love. So unconditional as to lay down the life of His only Son, who-because of the Triune Being of God-is an inclusive part of Himself. Now try to imagine that kind of mercy. Because God allowed His own heart to be broken, we have reason to be joyous!
When in the middle of adversity...trials and tribulations...its very hard to imagine being joyous. Allow me to share this personal story: several weeks ago I had some dental work done that left me in a lot of pain. (I see the dentist again tomorrow, lest any reader should worry!) The pain medication has just ripped my tummy apart. Yesterday, with my tooth hurting and my tummy rolling I experienced something even worse than these. I had a sudden itch in my left eye. I reached up, rubbed lightly, then realized the rubbing had caused my Gas Perm contact lens to slip into the far right upper corner of my eyeball. I knew this because I could feel the little slip of glass cutting into the tender area kept covered by my eyelid. It took me a good ten minutes to get the contact lens far enough down my eyeball in order to suction it out with this dandy little suction cup designed for such instances. Later that afternoon, I accidentally bit down on some food, causing searing pain to shoot through one side of my face (the tooth again...). Finally, as the day came to a close, I ran into an opened closet door and cut my arm on the metal door handle.
At that point I cried. Seriously, I just wrapped my arms around my frame and boo-hoo-ed. For that day, even as it came to a close, life seemed pretty hopeless. I mean, if my day to day is going to consist of one pain after the other...well!
Of course this is a pathetic example. There are those out there who live with extreme pain 24/7. Or with the unending care of a sick loved one. Some of us live in man-made prisons and others in prisons of the mind or soul. Children are locked in lives of violence and exploitation and they wonder if they will ever truly be free. Elderly are kept in abusive centers for the aged. (Not all centers are abusive, however.) Day in and day out...the situation never changes.
But according to Psalm 130:7, our hope is grounded in God's mercy and out of that mercy comes eternal life!
Hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is mercy and loving-kindness, and with Him is plenteous redemption. (AMP)
A Part of God's Character
One of God's finest character traits is mercy. In Exodus 34:6 God defined His character to Moses by saying, "The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth." (NIV) Note the very first character trait: mercy.
We serve a God of mercy. Oh, joy! We are loved unconditionally by a God of mercy!
And for that, we can surely be joyous!
1 Wiersbe, Warren W., Be Right (Chariot Victor Publishing, a division of Cook Communication. Colorado Springs, CO), pgs. 37,38.
Eva Marie Everson is the author of Shadow of Dreams & Summon the Shadows and an award-winning national speaker. She can be contacted for comments or for speaking engagement bookings at Bridegroomsbride@aol.com or you can go to her website here.
Other Articles in this Series: