The challenge of walking with the God who knows me
Names changed throughout except in some cases where the person involved has been or is in ministry.
If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Cor 5:17
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“I desire mercy not sacrifice”
It was not supposed to be gossip, it was supposed to help us, we knew the family a bit and one of them occasionally came to a Bible study I led, so ‘obviously’ it was going to be useful to me to know all about their past. The reality was however that now, whenever I saw a member of this family, my thoughts turned to this juicy piece of information about past sins that should never have been told. I could not help having a judgmental attitude. I had in a sense been poisoned by what I had heard. I don’t know if what I heard was true or not, I have never sought to verify it, but it had the ring of truth about it and for that the poison was even more effectual. It is no good my saying to the bearer of bad tidings that “It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret” (Eph 5:12 NIV) for there is no defence against hearing what you do not want to hear unless you are warned and this came without warning. To hold ones hands over ones ears like the monkey in “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” is to shut oneself off from the world. I cannot filter something unless I know before hand what it is going to be.
So, now during the church service as my eyes wandered and set upon one of them, (Yes I am afraid I suffer from a wandering mind too.) immediately my thoughts were captured by this judgmental attitude. What was I to do about it, my attitude was wrong, yet the act committed was also wrong. I could not deny the teachings of Christ in this respect in order to be able to accept them as if nothing had happened. Neither could I continue with a judgmental attitude that brought a distance and hesitancy in any relationship with them. It seemed to be the challenge of the Sons of Korah “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” (Ps 85:10 NIV) And I was far from attaining to the challenge.
As my mind flicked back to the service the pastor was saying “.... the great mercy of our God!” That was it! How amazing God is with his timing and his answers. Here was the problem and here was the answer. God’s mercy is greater than any sin. The sin is totally inexcusable, but God’s forgiveness is greater. I sat there; lost in wonder at God’s great mercy. Mercy for me just as much as for them, for what is a question of degree before a perfect God.
God’s mercy is one of those things that we always know about. If anyone had asked me “Do you think God can forgive them?” of course I would say ‘yes’. If God could forgive someone as vile as Manasseh (2 Chr 33:1-20) who made the streets of Jerusalem run with blood, then he could forgive anyone. Yet now I felt like I had not just known it but experienced it. God had given me a lesson. By allowing me to sit in the quandary of setting his righteousness against his peace in a very real situation, and being completely unable to resolve it, I was ready for the answer to have a deep inner meaning. So when those words “.. the great mercy of our God!” came, as it were from a heavenly messenger, the issue of my heart was resolved in a way that was not just intellectual but impacted my soul.
JUDGEMENT AND MERCY