Updated: Dec 15, 2022
How frequently I used to hear a dearly departed brother and evangelist in Christ, Bruce Heller, say this word over and over again in his unique Kentucky accent. Then there are the countless times I have heard my own mother say, “Lord, have mercy,” in moment of exasperation (many of which I’m sure I caused).
Who could begin to estimate how much divine power a little two-syllable word like ‘mercy’ contains? When you truly become aware that “…the wages of sin are death…” (Romans 6:23) you cry out for exception from a penalty you actually deserve. We literally work ourselves to death by our own decisions and rebellion and then appeal to a holy God to not count our sins against us.
Where else would we anticipate such action on our behalf? If you avoid paying taxes, and fines and penalties eventually accrue, our property can be seized or foreclosed on. If we collect parking tickets or traffic violations our fines and court costs can accumulate to staggering amounts. The exception is when we ask for mercy. Perhaps you’re a fan as my wife is of Judge Caprio from his courtroom series Caught in Providence? People appear before this gentle-spirited Judge in Rhode Island and when they are sincere and honest, sharing what money they actually have and pleading for mercy, they are more likely to receive it, leaving the courthouse with the matter paid in full.
It has been said that guilt is a crippling emotion - the greatest destroyer of emotional energy. It leaves you feeling immobilized in the present by something that has already occurred. Yet we are reminded in James 2:13, “…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Any earthly judge on his best day is but an incomplete and faint shadow of our mercy-filled Judge. We can talk to God about the darkest of our violations, our selfish choices, and our guilt right now. We can see in Jesus’ abuse, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection what it cost someone else to extend us forgiveness of our indebtedness. If it has been a while since you’ve stood before the mercy seat of God you can approach the bench and pray:
“Satisfy us in the morning with Your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”