Summary: No one is above the grace and mercy of God.
The Three Intertwined Strands of God
Heb 4: 14-16 & Ps 113: 7-8
There’s a vast difference between expressing knowledge about something, and expressing knowledge in something. When it comes to our dealing with people, the former is only concerned about information read or heard about the person, while the latter deals with an understanding of the entire make-up of the person, borne out of a personal experience with the person.
Many people today express knowledge of God borne out of their Pastors’ messages, or the things they read from books. They do not have a personal testimony or encounter with the attributes of God they profess to know. However, to know God in the real sense of the word, is to have an experience of Him through His attributes.
One thing the Bible makes clear is this: God is a God of compassion. Heb. 4:14-16 states: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (NIV)
In His compassion, we find three basic attributes that merge into each other, thus forming a rope of intertwined strands: Love, Mercy and Grace.
How They Work
Ps. 113:7-8 – [He (God)] lifts the poor from the dirt and the hungry from the garbage dump, and sets them among princes. (TLB)
God is Love, and this love locates us wherever we are. It extends to the sinner, it is there for the believer. His Love watches over us to ensure we do not fall into danger. However, if we do fall into any, His Mercy is always around in times of need to lift us up.
God’s Mercy is demonstrated when we are at our weakest point: thus places of sickness, poverty, darkness, weakness, failures and sin.
While His Love locates us in the water, struggling and gasping for air, it is His Mercy that picks us out and sets us on the shore.
But His Love doesn’t allow Him to stop there. It compels Him to move beyond Mercy…He shows us Grace.
This Grace sends the believer up into His favour, promotion, ministry, health, success and goodness. Thus, while His Mercy saves us from drowning and sets us on the safer shore, it is not enough to leave us cold and shivering on the shore; His Grace would air-lift us from the shores, and send us to a well-prepared hotel room with men and women who are waiting to receive and serve us.
But who deserves this Love, Mercy and Grace of God? Let’s take a look at three beneficiaries.
Matthew: The Tax Collector (Matt 9: 9-13)
This man was a tax-collector working for the Roman government. As it was the order of the day, he taxed the people many times higher than the amount he would account for, and kept the rest for himself. He was therefore a public enemy as far as the Jews were concerned. Such a person, in the eyes of the people, was never qualified for any act of compassion, yet…Mercy found him.
Christ saw Matthew through the eyes of mercy, not as the world saw him in his current state, but as he could become.
Matthew received forgiveness, fellowship, favour and promotion. He however, lost some aspects of his past in order to occupy the new place that God had set him on:
He lost a good income, but found honour in God’s sight.
He lost comfortable security, but gained divine favour. He lost a comfortable job, but found divine destiny and purpose for his life.
He left his tax table, but took his pen and became an author of divine mysteries.
The amazing thing about God’s Mercy is that when it picks you out of the miry clay, it refines your skills acquired there and when He sets you on the rocks, He teaches you to mould clay into useful pottery. Likewise, the very pen Matthew used to write falsehood was refined and he began to write divine truths.
You can receive God’s Love, Mercy and Grace even if you are the world’s greatest criminal. You qualify for it even if you are the worst person in the world. You are not beyond its reach even if you are the least honourable in people’s eyes.
Jairus: The leader who lost his daughter (Matt 9: 18-19, 23-26)
This was a Rabbi of the local synagogue. This group of people did not believe in Christ as the Messiah. However, he had heard and probably even seen the miracles of Jesus. His daughter had just died, he badly needed a miracle. In his desperation, he threw all caution away; he ignored the ‘beware-of-this-man’ mentality he had imbibed from his colleagues, and threw himself at the mercy-literally-of Christ.