THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2016
THE TIME FOR MERCY IS NOW
February 10, 2016
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Our world is in darkness and sin. That is the really bad news.
The only way out is repentance and turning back to God. “Yet
even noworacle of the Lordreturn to me with your
whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your
hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God”
(Jl 2:12-13a). Now the really good news: God is merciful.
If we repent and return to Him, He forgives and accepts us
back. “For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment.”
is both merciful and gracious. Though these two virtues often
go together, they have different meanings. With mercy, God
relents and withholds the punishment due us for our sins.
With grace, God blesses us and imparts to us what we do not
deserve. “Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind
a blessing” (Jl 2:14a). Not perhaps, but rather surely.
is the ultimate proof of God’s mercy? It is the Father
sending His own Son to the world to suffer and die for us
on the cross. The icon of mercy is the crucifix. “For
our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin”
(2 Cor 5:21a). On the cross Jesus won for us our salvation,
opening up God’s mercy and grace into our lives.
mercy is unilateral, unconditional and freely given. We just
need to recognize and take hold of it. First we recognize
our need for mercy and forgiveness. “For I know my transgressions;
my sin is always before me.” (Ps 51:5). Then we confidently
but humbly look to God’s mercy. “Have mercy on
me, God, in accord with your merciful love; in your abundant
compassion blot out my transgressions. Thoroughly wash away
my guilt; and from my sin cleanse me.” (Ps 51:3-4).
it does not end there, with our having been forgiven and restored
to God. We need to proclaim and share that mercy to others.
As we have received, we are to give. And so Jesus taught us
to pray, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”
(Mt 6:12). This is very important. God’s mercy is unilateral
and unconditional and is poured out upon us, but for us to
fully experience such mercy, we must extend His mercy and
forgiveness to others. “If you forgive others their
transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But
if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive
your transgressions.” (Mt 6:14-15).
we see what our task is. We are to be God’s instruments
of mercy. We represent God, and God imparts His blessings
through us. “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if
God were appealing through us.” (2 Cor 5:20a). To be
fitting instruments, we both have to return to God, and to
lead others to return to God. “We implore you on behalf
of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Cor 5:20b). The
more we enter deeply into a new and restored life in Christ,
the more we will be able instruments of God’s mercy.
We must desire and strive to live sinless lives. “A
clean heart create for me, God” (Ps 51:12a). This is
“so that we might become the righteousness of God in
him.” (2 Cor 5:21b). We should strive to be pure and
holy. “Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash
me, and I will be whiter than snow.” (Ps 51:9).
mercy is what the world needs to experience. As people redeemed
by God, we must do our part and be instruments of mercy to
others. We must proclaim God’s mercy and salvation to
all. “Blow the horn in Zion! Proclaim a fast, call an
assembly! Gather the people, sanctify the congregation”
(Jl 2:15-16a). We need to help bring sinners to repentance
and faith in Jesus. “I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.” (Ps 51:15). Then we
go before God and say, “Spare your people, Lord!”
will be God’s response? God has already shown Himself
to be a God of mercy. We must be fully confident in that.
“Then the Lord grew jealous for his land and took pity
on his people.” (Jl 2:18).
task is urgent. People continue to die in their sins, unknowing
of the bountiful mercy of God. We must tell the world of His
love, mercy and salvation. That time is now. “Behold,
now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
(2 Cor 6:2b).