This little guy represents all of us – he knows he’s been found out, it’s weighing heavy on him and he’s pleading for mercy! Which way will those scales weigh – mercy or justice? How do they weigh for you?
‘“My friend” resumed the Bishop, “before you go, here are your candlesticks. Take them.”… Jean Valjean was trembling in every limb. He took the two candlesticks mechanically, and with a bewildered air. “Now,” said the Bishop, “go in peace.
By the way, when you return, my friend, it is not necessary to pass through the garden. You can always enter and depart through the street door. It is never fastened with anything but a latch, either by day or by night”’ – The bishop to Jean Valjean in Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
It probably will not be candlesticks for you but for all of us, it will be something that we wish we hadn’t said, done or let alone thought. Have you truly tasted mercy? If so, how has it affected your life? Jean Valjean wrestled with grace in his darkest hours but it came to define his life and future actions.
- ‘All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honour, duty, mercy, hope’ - Winston Churchill
- ‘God's mercy and grace give me hope - for myself, and for our world’ – Billy Graham
- ‘The essence of justice is mercy’ – Edwin Hubbel Chapin
- ‘For me, it is one of the 'signs of the times' that the idea of God's mercy is becoming increasingly central and dominant’ – Pope Benedict xvi
- ‘We need to show mercy. I mean, because as much mercy as you show people, that's the mercy you're going to be receiving’ – Joel Osteen
- ‘Spare me through your mercy, do not punish me through your justice’ - Anselm of Canterbury
- ‘I am a most noteworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvellous Presence’ – Christopher Columbus
Would you agree that ‘all have sinned and all fall short’? If we realise that to be true, then it leaves us the wrong side of a chasm that we cannot bridge. Look back through recent history in our times and you will see it is littered with tragedies of persons, personal tragedies, who never found the grace of God it seems. Many things can deceive us and even allow God’s Word to be distorted – we’re too bad, the sin is unforgiveable, judgement triumphs over mercy. It’s possible to have had teaching that puts you into condemnation and twists God’s mercy. Let these scriptures put that right:
- ‘But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners’ – Matthew 9:13
- ‘Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy’ – Proverbs 28:13
- ‘The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer’ – Psalm 6:9
- ‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions’ – Psalm 51:1
- ‘Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus’ – Romans 8:1
- ‘Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy’ – Micah 7:18
- ‘He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’ – Micah 6:8
- ‘Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy’ – Habakkuk 3:2
- ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’ – Matthew 5:7
- ‘Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ – Hebrews 4:16
- ‘Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance’ – Jude 1:2
‘The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance’ – Billy Graham
‘And now let me address all of you, high and low, rich and poor, one with another, to accept of mercy and grace while it is offered to you; Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation; and will you not accept it, now it is offered unto you?’ – George Whitefield
Keep pressing through and you’ll come to One who loves to give the mercy you need – bought by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ, this mercy will cover every failure and even the darkest secrets of the human heart. Anyone who doesn’t think they need the mercy of God hasn’t realised that if you fall short by an metre it’s as bad if you fall short by a mile. The greater the realisation of the need for mercy, the greater the gratitude once received. A good example of that is one who regarded himself as the worst of sinners - the Apostle Paul. Once in the flow of grace and mercy, stay in the flow as you receive and give – here indeed is a multiplication of God’s mercy that brings him glory and joy as mercy keeps going round and round.
Let the weight be taken off you as a final word comes from the former slave trader, John Newton:
‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see’
TAGS - mercy, grace, hope, peace, forgiveness, joy