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Monday, February 21, 2011

On Mercy: Part 3 of 3

Mercy for Mercy’s Sake

With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high?” Micah 6:6

The Lord requires of us several good things: to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Him (6:8).  The first is the most appealing, because it’s the one we can do.  Even the most legalistic or the most self-reliant can, by sheer will, apply a set of rules.  But to love it?  Recall Jonah’s outrage when God showers a sinful Nineveh with forgiveness.  Ever secretly sympathize with him?  Well, if we are to love mercy, we will have to become humble indeed, because God’s justice is not ours.  It’s an interesting combination of requirements, then, that add up to goodness.

You need mercy to show mercy.  Who is like God, “pardoning iniquity, and passing over transgression?” (7:18).  Not us, the litigious Americans!  Not Israel, it seems.  Not humanity.  But God, in us. 

God presents Israel with an evidence list in Micah 6, a reminder that time and again he has shown his merciful nature with big, flashing marquee lights.  Hard to miss it when He brought you out of Egypt.  Hard to overlook the provision in the desert, the delivery of a Promised Land.  I could make a list, too, of the nice things I’ve done this week.  But they would be just that, evidence that I can occasionally be nice, probably to produce results: to be praised, to keep the family happy, to keep up appearances.  God’s list is a testament to his character.  God IS mercy.

When we understand mercy like this, we can begin to pursue it for its own sake.  We are stripped of our own sense of justice, which flows from self-righteousness.  We are humbled by God’s sovereignty in bestowing what we haven’t earned.  We are left to marvel at God’s record of merciful intervention.  Then we can love mercy.  Then we can love God.

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