Our lives are filled with people, experiences, and gifts that we may value but still not fully appreciate.
It’s easy, for example, to take for granted that the sun will rise each morning. While many of us appreciate the beauty of the sunrise as dawn breaks, when was the last time that you paused to reflect upon how fortunate we are to have a sun that warms us, provides light, and sustains our physical existence?
Other elements of our lives, such as our youth, our relationships, and our health are more provisional and often not fully appreciated until they fade away.
Within the context of our spiritual walk, one of the most incredible gifts of which we are assured is that of a merciful God. The Bible contains dozens of verses that define and depict the glory of God’s mercy.
In Ephesians 2:4-5, the Apostle Paul writes, “4But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”
As followers of Christ, we know that we are forever assured of God’s mercy in exchange for our commitment in belief. But progressing from simply knowing about God’s mercy to fully appreciating the depths and benefits of his remarkable gift requires that we also consider the circumstances that accompany it.
In Week 5 of the “God Is” series, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Tom Martin examined the glorious reality of our merciful God. The big point of this week was: When we realize that God is merciful, we discover that we are free.
The verses that immediately precede Ephesians 2:4 provide invaluable context for the indelible and undeserved gift of God’s mercy:
1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil — the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature, we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (Ephesians 2:1-3)
In his commentary on Ephesians 2, minister and author Matthew Henry explains, “We have here a lively picture both of the misery of unregenerate men and of the happy condition of converted souls, enough to awaken and alarm those who are yet in their sins and to put them upon hastening out of that state, and to comfort and delight those whom God hath quickened, with a consideration of the mighty privileges with which they are invested.”
In short, Henry speaks to the link between the necessity for God’s mercy and our appreciation for the depths of the privileges it provides to us as believers.
In his Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul explained that we were once:
- Dead because of our sins;
- Living in sin;
- Obeying the devil;
- Refusing to obey God;
- Following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature; and
- Subject to God’s anger.
This is who we were before God gave us his mercy. And this is what makes the passage, “but God is so rich in mercy, …” so important!
Anytime we are tempted by our sinful nature, and every time we are reminded of our sinful past, we need only remember the words, “But God” to appreciate the gift of his mercy.
This is not about forgetting or minimizing the significance of our sins. Nor is it about dwelling on our sins or surrendering to what may sometimes feel like the inevitability of their recurrence.
Rather, the words, “But God” should serve as a trigger to help us frame our minds around the freedoms and opportunities that God generously affords us through his mercy. With God’s mercy, we are free to embrace the treasure of his gift, to move further into intimacy with him, and to recommit ourselves to walking with God and away from sin.
When was the last time you considered the priceless worth of God’s mercy?
Do you ever find yourself stuck in regret over past sins, or frustrated by the temptation of your sinful nature?
If so, what are some ways you can leverage the words “But God,” to move forward in freedom?
Heavenly Father, thank you for the undeserved (and thus often underappreciated) gift of your mercy. Help me to remember the words “But God” and appreciate the glorious freedoms that you have bestowed on me as a believer. And help me to embrace the entirety of your gift as I walk forward with you and away from my sinful past. Amen.
This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd is a regular contributor to and editor of the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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