Grace & Mercy




Scripture:

1Tim. 1:12   I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. 16 But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Observation:

This story from the life of Paul becomes an example of grace and mercy. Saul, the persecutor was captured by the prevenient grace of God. The grace of the Lord reached out to Saul, even as he continued to violently oppose the Christians. 

Instead of being condemned and eternally punished for the things that he had done, Saul was shown mercy. The very love of God reached beyond the activities of his man and forgave him, making him absolutely new. His new name, Paul, was indicative of the mercy shown. The past was behind him and now the future lay ahead, a new clean chapter to be written of his life. 

This grace and mercy was such a blessing that a sudden outburst of praise appears. With a grateful heart God is glorified. 

Application:

The entire episode of Paul’s conversion is quite interesting. There doesn’t appear to have been a plan among the believers to try and bring him into the fold. On the contrary, the new believers were hiding from this man who was known to bring destruction. I’ve wondered whether there were those who were praying for him; maybe not for his salvation, but that he would stay away from them! That’s the amazing thing about grace, for grace reaches out to all and in many cases, the most unlikely respond.

There is much discussion these days about evangelism and church planting, all of which is extremely important for we are called by Christ to go and make disciples. But it is only when we recognize that it is the grace of God that goes before and the mercy of our Lord that saves that we can get ourselves out of the way. I’m afraid that far too often we are trying to accomplish God’s work for God, instead of understanding that God is already at work. It could be that we are actually bridling the work of the Holy Spirit by our own insistence that things happen the way that we expect them to happen.

Who would have thought that Saul would come to Christ? Probably no one among the believers, and yet, they did believe in the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to bring about transformation. The Lord sent Saul to Ananias because he knew that Ananias was sincere in his faith and willing to be open minded. Ananias was willing to participate in Jesus’ mission to make Christ-like disciples. Immediately Ananias began to teach Paul in the ways of the believers. He invested in Paul and discipled him. This was Ananias’ responsibility.

Grace and mercy are the work of God and we are simply invited to become participants in this action. When we follow the great command of our Lord to love him with all that we have, then we are compelled by the overflow to love the world. We participate in God’s grace and mercy, and the result is that there are those who will come to Christ. 

The supernatural work of God continues to be at work in this world. Grace and mercy are being extended in powerful ways by God, and we simply becomes extensions of that work. Jesus prayed that we might be one with the him and the Father. As we pray for our participation with God, then our eyes will be opened to the work of God already at hand. Grace and mercy flow from the love of the Triune God into a needy world. God invites us to partner in this ministry of divine reconciliation to transform the world. 

Prayer:

Lord, thank you for the reminder to rest in the fact that your grace is at work. Amen. 


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