Why Costly Mercy?

Why costly mercy? That’s a good question.

Everyone needs mercy. We love the idea. Mercy is when we don’t get something we rightly deserve. So we ask a teacher for a second chance on a test, a police officer for leniency on a ticket and a friend not to hold what we said against us. Even when we realize that we don’t deserve it and that the other person isn’t required to show it; there’s something in all our hearts that holds out hope for mercy.

My life has been radically changed by the realization that the person I really need mercy from is God. I’ve spent a lot of my life ignoring Him. There’s been so many days that I’ve pretended like He doesn’t even exist. And my wrong heart attitudes, my prideful thinking, my unkind words and my wrong choices are actually done against God. He’s told me not to do those things because they are the opposite of His character and an offense to His nature. But I do them anyway. I’m a rebel without an excuse. I’m a sinner who is hoping for mercy.

In everyone’s concept of God there’s some vague notion of mercy. Maybe He doesn’t care, doesn’t notice or just hasn’t gotten around to it–but we all kind of figure that God understands that we’re not perfect. But it’s only in Christianity, only in the Bible, that we are told that mercy is not free (Isaiah 53:5-6;Titus 3:5) . God can’t just wink at sin and pretend it’s not there. Just like we often say when someone else sins against us and hurts us deeply: ”Someone has to pay.” And so Someone did pay–Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). In order for God to show mercy for my sin Jesus had to die. God couldn’t just look the other way when He saw my sin. But He could look at Jesus dying on the cross. Mercy isn’t cheap. This kind of expensive mercy turns your world upside down.

God’s mercy gives us the ability to show people mercy (Luke 6:36, Romans 12). Knowing mercy means we show mercy. The people we hang out with, the way we serve in our church, our concern for our next door neighbor–mercy changes everything. Costly mercy leads us towards hard places, “lost” causes and broken people (Luke 10:36; James 2:15-16). We want to show and tell God’s mercy to the hurting.

That’s what this blog is about: mercy taking root in the most unlikely, undeserved places–like my sinful heart, low-income neighborhoods and first-world countries.

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