The night before last, when I wrote the post on mercy, I had more calls and comments than on any post for the last several months. And so many of you wrote to me with examples of families needing God’s mercy that I really almost wrote a follow-up post – which I fully intended to call “Mercy 2 – A Continuation”. Instead, I decided to address the issue from another angle, rather than fill another post with additional examples of families needing God’s grace – but just to show you the depth of the comments, there is one story I wish to relate.
Around Mother’s Day this year, I was called in to assist a company that was struggling with the death of an employee; and then another employee died the next day. People were really distressed to learn of the passing of two of their co-workers; and I was asked to help by providing grief counseling for the employees of the company. Anyway, the first lady died under very tragic circumstances. And this Tuesday morning, the President of the company I served, after reading the post, wrote and let me know that the woman’s daughter was killed in a motorcycle accident this past Saturday. He commented on the need for God’s grace for the teenager’s father and extended family who are still living. Two deaths since Mother’s Day in one family – it’s difficult to believe.
This is just one of the many stories that came to my attention. Some of you have even written or spoken about being brought to tears, and prayers, upon reading of some of the events going on around us – events certainly calling for God’s mercy. And I fully intended to write this article yesterday, that is until I met Charles – the shoe shine guy at Dallas airport; and wrote about his conversion story instead.
Tonight, I wanted to write a little about Paul. Not my seminary friend Paul, although he now also subscribes to TBTB, but the apostle Paul. Months ago, I taught on the topic of “Grace and Peace” – how one must experience God’s grace before we can experience God’s peace. And those of you who have personal correspondence with me know that I tend to use the phrase, “Grace and Peace” at the end of my notes and letters. I just really think that it is important to constantly be reminded of grace; and then peace.
But as I have been processing mercy this week, I was reminded of Paul’s opening remarks when he wrote his two personal epistles to his young disciple Timothy. In both 1 Tim and 2 Tim, Paul doesn’t use his standard opening. Instead, he writes, in 1 Tim 1:2, “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” In 2 Tim 1:2, he wrote, “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” On first reading it seems kind of odd that Paul includes the word “mercy” in his greetings. But it is certainly not a mistake – he did it twice!
Undoubtedly, Paul was trying to teach this young pastor a lesson about our Lord. And Paul goes on to let Timothy, and us, know that he considered himself one of the worst offenders of the faith ever. In fact, he refers to himself as the worst sinner. Then, in 1 Tim 1:16, Paul tells us, “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”
So even though Paul repented, and accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, he still was shown mercy as an example for others so they may believe in Christ as well. Is there anyone among us who would not like to have a little of God’s mercy? Grace and Peace are things we all desire; but Paul teaches his young Timothy that there is another element at work. Because we also serve a merciful God.
My encouragement tonight is that God wants to extend grace; and he is also a God of mercy. None of us would fare very well in a world, serving a God who decrees justice – none of us would pass the test. And that’s one of the great things about grace – we can’t earn it – it is an eternal gift from God. And then, hopefully with God’s mercy, we can achieve peace. My prayer this evening this that you will not only accept God’s grace, but that you will also be merciful to others. The world is filled with too much intolerance and we need to show each other that things can be quite a bit better. It starts with Christians emulating the behavior of Jesus Christ. So, until tomorrow, have a great day – grace, mercy and peace…..