“A man does not get grace till he comes down to the ground, till he sees he needs grace. When a man stoops to the dust and acknowledges that he needs mercy, then it is that the Lord will give him grace.” – Dwight L. Moody.
The mercy of God is one of the most precious gifts we will ever receive. It is a prominent theme throughout the Bible. If you want to know who God really is, if you want to peek into His heart, don’t dwell on His incalculable power or His wrath. Instead, look at His mercy. We are prone to see God’s mercy as peripheral or incidental to who He is. But if we let the Scriptures have their say, we will see that when God shows His mercy in ways we can only imagine.
There are wonderful examples of God’s mercy in the Bible. Today, we look at one. This story showcases a God who does not remain “in the clouds,” but is active in the lives of His people.
It is the story of the widow found in 2 Kings 4:1-7. This passage tells us the story of the widow that lost her husband and was faced with debts she couldn’t pay, Debt collectors will take her sons and make them slaves to serve as payback for the money the late husband was owing them. She was depressed, devastated, and frustrated, but God had mercy on her and brought Elisha her way. Elisha asked her if she had anything in the house and she replied “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Elisha told her to borrow all the empty jars she can from friends and neighbors, then she should go inside the house shut the door behind her, and pour olive oil from the flask into the jars setting each one aside when it is filled. She did as she was instructed and soon every jar is full. Elisha told her to“sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.” This is a great example of mercy because she had no help, nobody was ready to help her condition nor help her pay her debts, but God looked on her with mercy.
The rest of the Bible takes up this same theme. God is not only merciful, he is “rich is mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). It is because of God’s mercy that we are saved. “he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5)
Mercy triumphed over judgment when Christ died for sinners, to rescue us from the condemnation we surely deserved. That same mercy triumphs still as our Holy Father looks at us and sees the faultless and unblemished image of His perfect Son. It was and still is the most extraordinary display of mercy in history. We are sinful people and we absolutely do not deserve the goodness and love our Father shows us, but each and every time we stray He relentlessly calls us back to Him and shows us incomprehensible grace and mercy.
Furthermore, God’s mercy for the believer isn’t just a single one-off act. Psalm 23 gives us the assurance that “goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Whatever situation you’re in today, you can rest in God’s mercy.
- God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5.7). How are the merciful blessed? What does this look like? Have you experienced this? When?
- How effective are you at being a conduit for passing on the mercy God has shown you to other people?
- If you were to incorporate mercy into your own life, how would the next week be different?