21 July – Pay back???

I’m often challenged  by some of the thoughts and teaching points raised in the devotional we read to our children at night. It’s a nightly reminder that we all “need to be as little children” and keep the foundations of our character and beliefs simple.

Perhaps too often as adults we can get too clever for our own good, and “getting back to the basics” is both wise and liberating.

This week we’ve been talking together about Mercy and how to fight the temptation to get back at someone. How anything we do and say can be a boomerang and come straight back at us, and that we all can have a second chance.

Mercy is a pretty profound concept. When we extend mercy it means we choose to be kind to that person even when we want to get back at them, or when the person deserves to be punished.

There is a saying “what goes around comes around” Meaning that if we are good, we can be sure that good things will come back to us, like a boomerang. We all like that! But what if we do things that are not so good, or even plain evil and wrong? Does that mean bad will come back at us too.

The thing is in our own strength and ability we can’t be good all the time. We end up messing up and doing the things we don’t want to do, thinking and saying things that hurt others, and for which we often regret later.

That’s a problem, and it’s where mercy comes to the fore.

The bible says, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved”.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

On our own we have a problem, and it’s a serious one. If we believe in justice, and fair play; and most of us do; then we all deserve to be punished. Where we have done wrong, hurt others, lived selfishly or for ourselves, lied, cheated, etc; shouldn’t we expect those bad things will come back at us somewhere, somehow? We certainly expect good things to come around when we estimate that we have lived a “good” life. That what goes around will come around to us. So, why not the bad?

It’s because inherently we are hoping and looking for mercy. For a reprieve,  “a break” from “copping” what we deserve. We hope our “sins will not find us out.” And that is where Jesus comes in, and has made a way. He offers each and every one of us a reprieve, no matter what we have done. Jesus came to get “paid back” for the wrong we have done.

That sounds great, but in actual fact a lot of us have trouble receiving that gift of mercy. We spend our lives “working” at being good enough. We are still stuck in the “religious” thinking that if I am good, then good things will happen. But if bad things happen, then that must be punishment for something I have done.

But Jesus did away with that thinking. That’s under the law, it’s religion; and it sadly still keeps many people wondering if they have done enough or are “good enough” to be forgiven. It fosters uncertainty of who we are,  and our standing before God.

Below is just a few things that Mercy has done for us when we receive it. Jesus says these things about us:

I am a joint-heir with Christ (Romans 8:17).

I am more than a conqueror through Him Who loves me (Romans 8:37).

I am delivered from the power of darkness and translated into God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).

I am redeemed from the curse of sin, sickness, and poverty (Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Galatians 3:13).

I am raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12).

I am greatly loved by God (Romans 1:7; Ephesians 2:4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

Once we accept the mercy that has been extended to us, and say we’re sorry for the things we have done wrong, God forgives us. It’s that simple.

We couldn’t in a 100 life times earn by “good works” the mercy that has freely been bestowed on us. God blesses and bestows favor because He loves us, not because we are good enough, or have earnt it.

Today, stop trying to earn forgiveness and your freedom. Stop being afraid of bad things happening because of something you have done in the past or even today. Jesus did everything that ever needed to be done to grant you mercy, when He gave His life for you. He took the punishment in His own body, even unto death so that you could be spared any “pay back”.

He was paid back for every wrong word, thought and action we have, could or ever will do.

All He asks is that we receive His forgiveness and spend our lives extending that same mercy to others. That when we are tempted to get back at someone who has done something wrong to us, we will instead have mercy because He had mercy on us.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other” (1Thessalonians 5:15)

The LORD is good. His mercy endures forever. His faithfulness endures throughout every generation.” (Psalm 100:5)

Prayer: Jesus thank you for your mercy that you offer to me. Regardless of the good or bad that I do, you extend an invitation to me to receive your mercy. Then I don’t have to fear “pay back” for the wrong I do, or strive to be good enough so that only good things then happen to me.

It’s all about your mercy and knowing who I am in you. Forgive me for the wrong I have done; I receive your mercy today. Please help me to be merciful to others too. In Jesus Name, Amen

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