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Insights & Encouragement

Rich In Mercy (Part 2)


Ephesians 2:1-7 

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 

Last time, in Part 1 of this devotion, we delved into the idea of being dead in our trespasses and how trespassing is not a minor offense when it is an important place and person you are trespassing against (like the White House). We were dead in our trespasses, deserving eternal punishment.   

These verses tell us that’s what we justly deserve and then say, “But God, being rich in mercy...” 

God is rich in mercy.  

What is this “stuff” called mercy and how does one become rich in it? As a kid I remember hearing that you can think of “grace” as getting what you don’t deserve and “mercy” as not getting what you do deserve. I think that’s a helpful way to differentiate the two and I was happy to leave it at that for many years – mercy is me being spared from what I deserve. Then a few years ago I heard a preacher define mercy in a new way. He explained that to show mercy is to cut short suffering, to reduce someone else’s pain when you have the power to do so. This enriches my appreciation for mercy. I picture William Wallace at the end of Braveheart, being tortured for what he believed in, as the crowd of onlookers begin crying out, “Mercy!” Enough suffering, cut it short! Mercy! 

How does God’s mercy apply to me? Why should I care that he is rich in mercy?  

We trespassed, remember? Repeatedly, far down the path of sin, going against all that God is and loves. So we need the suffering that is coming our way to be cut short. 

To become rich in money or land or fame, one must accumulate and stockpile it. That’s what it means to be rich. But mercy doesn’t work that way, does it? You can’t become rich in mercy by holding it back – someone who shows no mercy becomes bankrupt in mercy. The only way to become rich in mercy…is to give it away and the more generous you are in your giving, the richer you become. So, tying this into the definitions above, a person who is rich in mercy generously cuts short the suffering of others by not giving them what they deserve. God is rich in mercy. 

So, how rich is God in mercy? He is the richest being in mercy, without question or challenger. If Forbes had a Mercy 500 ranking, God would be #1 and they couldn’t put a number to his mercy. #2 on the list would be hopelessly embarrassed to even be compared. Because God has offered every human soul the immeasurable mercy of full forgiveness and then has piled on top of that “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”  

Finally, and most importantly, remember that there is no net loss of suffering in this deal. Meaning, for God to remain a good and holy judge, there must be punishment and suffering for every trespass of his law. But praise be to God that he did not show mercy to his Son, Jesus, as he bore our sorrows on the cross - by His grace we are saved!