Let’s think about the state of the world. By the time you finish reading this, countless lives will be lost to famine, war, neglect, abuse, and self-destruction. Governments are corrupt, schools are falling apart, families are broken, and hope lost. What other choice do we have than to slam the gavel down and say guilty. We’re guilty of creating a world that revolves around self. Guilty of doing whatever seems right in our minds. We’re guilty of stealing God’s creation and claiming it for ourselves.
On the other hand, what if the world is getting better? More than 90% of the people living in poverty in America have running water, air-conditioning, a cell phone, and TV. These amenities would be the envy of the wealthiest only 100 years ago. With this kind of progress, one might logically deduct that things are getting better rather than worse. I can imagine within our lifetime poverty across the globe being reduced, diseases that have torn mankind apart being cured, and freedom given to people bound in slavery. In one sense, all were guilty of is progress. Progress toward a new freedom, a new way of thinking, and hope in our ability to push past what seems to be insurmountable.
But in God’s economy does any of this really matter? Whether things get worse or better doesn’t change the condition of the soul. How does God judge the world? What are his criteria for determining guilt? Matthew chapter 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” Let’s take a look at how God judged the world throughout history.
Adam and Eve sinned against God, but they are given mercy. Later mankind turned their back on God. God extended mercy by saving Noah’s family. Moses took matters into his own hands and he’s still given mercy and opportunity to be God’s instrument. Israel embittered during the exile still mercifully provided for. Countless battles for survival and God continued to display mercy upon his people. Kings, prophets, and priests all received mercy along the journey that brought God’s people to Jesus, the introduction of the Son of God. This was God’s ultimate expression of mercy. Next came a church characterized by fighting, backstabbing, and seeking the world, but God continued to lavish mercy. Murderous leaders, like Paul, determined to squash Christianity were given new site through the gospel’s mercy. Countless martyrs, Churches, and people like us living for God thousands of years will one day see the promises of revelation. We will be reunited with God because of his mercy.
But what did all these people do after receiving mercy? They gave mercy, God’s redemptive plan. What can we learn from this? Recognize the depths of our judgment, the heights of God’s mercy, and continue to extend the mercy we received.
So how do we judge?
We extend the sentence of death – death to self, justice, and being right. God gives true self, God is justice, and God makes all things right. Our sentence is fast and hard. It is filled with mercy.
Death to Self
The single most difficult thing we do in life is learn to die to self. It takes everything we have to deny ourselves and put God first. Those times when we truly embrace dying to self are worth all the pain and effort it takes to get there. Knowing that Christ went before us, stands with us, and is ahead of us can sustain us.
1 Peter 4:1-2
Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.
Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
What role do you (self) play in extending God’s mercies?
Death to Justice
Death to Justice means death to feeling obligated to cast judgment on people for what they’ve said done or continue to do. We are obligated to walk alongside everyone – walking them to Christ, not condemning them to Christ. Extending mercy is a much more powerful tool than casting judgment. Mercy opens people’s eyes to their brokenness. Judgment closes their fists to get ready to fight. Far too often in our minds we confuse justice with vengeance. Neither is within our power. They are both God’s responsibility.
Because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
In what areas of your life could you replace justice with mercy?
Death to being Right
Being the wrong person with the wrong answers at the wrong time make you the perfect person for God to use to reveal what’s right. Anytime I’ve been right God has prompted it. He’s already made things right. It’s our job to rest in his right or righteousness. What God says, what he’s written, and what he orchestrates will always point us to righteousness. Getting out of the way and letting God do what only God can do reveals His redemptive plan.
1 Peter 3:18 ESV
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.
How can being wrong position you to reveal what God says is right?