(Part 13)


December 23, 2015

Today’s readings:

Malachi 3:1-24

Psalm 25:4-14

Luke 1:57-66

If not for the mercy of God, we would be hopelessly cut off from Him due to our sins. The awesome mercy of God is totally unreasonable from the human point-of-view. It is graciously giving what is undeserved. The mercy of God transcends even the order of nature. Elizabeth was beyond child-bearing age but “she gave birth to a son.” (Lk 1:57). Her neighbors and relatives saw what this miracle was about, “that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her” (Lk 1:58).

This then is our hope. We can then confidently turn to God and say, “Remember your compassion and your mercy, O Lord, for they are ages old. Remember no more the sins of my youth; remember me according to your mercy, because of your goodness, Lord.” (Ps 25:6-7). Now God extends His mercy even though we are undeserving, but we need to respond. His mercy is an invitation to repentance.

Repentance is about humbling ourselves, turning from pride in our human ways and strength, and acknowledging that apart from God we are nothing. The contrary is the way it is with the world. “But we call the arrogant blessed; for evildoers not only prosper but even test God and escape.” (Mal 3:15). For us, we respond to the mercy of God by desiring to know and live His ways. “Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths.” (Ps 25:4). When we sincerely pray this, then “He guides the humble in righteousness and teaches the humble his way.” (Ps 25:9). And where does His way lead to? “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth toward those who honor his covenant and decrees.” (Ps 25:10).

Now we must also be aware of the consequences of rejecting God’s mercy by lack of repentance and persisting in sin. Some in the world do have this attitude. “It is useless to serve God; what do we gain by observing God’s requirements, and by going about as mourners before the Lord of hosts?” (Mal 3:14). The consequence of such arrogance will be terrible. “For the day is coming, blazing like an over, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire” (Mal 3:19a).

Let us humble ourselves and acknowledge our sinfulness. Let us look to God’s mercy and forgiveness. “For the sake of your name, Lord, pardon my guilt, though it is great.” (Ps 25:11). Let us acknowledge our nothingness before the awesome majesty of God. This puts us in right relationship with God, who then extends to us His mercy and shows us the way. “Who is the one who fears the Lord? God shows him the way he should choose.” (Ps 25:12).

What is the result of God’s mercy?

  • Our names are placed in the book of life. “A record book was written before him of those who fear the Lord and esteem his name.” (Mal 3:16b).
  • We become God’s special people. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, my own special possession” (Mal 3:17a).
  • God will continue to show us the way. “The counsel of the Lord belongs to those who fear him; and his covenant instructs them.” (Ps 25:14).
  • We will experience healing and re-birth. “But for you who fear my name, the sun of justice will arise with healing in its wings; and you will go out leaping like calves from the stall” (Mal 3:20).
  • God will pour out His bountiful blessings upon us. “He will abide in prosperity, and his descendants will inherit the land.” (Ps 25:13).

Such is God’s promise. “And I will have compassion on them” (Mal 3:17b).

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