Category Archives: Mercy

Do Me a Favour

Proverbs 12:2

“A good man obtaineth favour of the LORD: but a man of wicked devices will he condemn.”

Obtain or Deserve?

‘Every Good Boy Deserves Favor’ was the title of a 1971 Moody Blues album. The cover shows a young child and a wizened old man, the child apparently in awe of the old man, perhaps receiving instruction. But why should a good person deserve favor? Didn’t the Moody Blues know about grace? In terms of the human relationship with God His favor is not something that is deserved. It is only possible through grace.

Grace Not Works

But if salvation is possible through grace rather than works, why does Solomon state that a good man obtains favor from the Lord? The answer is simple. Because when salvation occurs Jesus Christ moves in and lives inside us. This may sound weird, but when you think about it we cannot become good, or do good works, unless we are equipped. Having Christ in us provides the enabling for us to obtain the favor of the Lord as we move forwards in obedience to His instruction and guided by His knowledge (Proverbs 12:1).

Another Way

As always in life we have a choice. There is another way. A way condemned by the Lord. A broad road that leads to destruction, but which is favored by many because of its apparent pleasures. Take a look around. Are you standing in Broad Street? If you are then perhaps it is time to move on. Time to search for the grace that brings eternal favor, rather than temporary pleasure. You have a choice. You always have a choice.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

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Don’t Be a Scrooge

Anthony, Grady, and Daniel

Anthony, Grady, and Daniel

(A Note from the desk of the Editor: It was truly a privilege to host Daniel Klem and his wife, Caitlin, when they visited Chattanooga a few years ago. It was the first time we ever had the chance to meet in person. We thank the Lord for brothers and sisters in Christ! Also in the picture is Grady Davidson, who also just met Daniel – Grady and I already knew each other.)

Proverbs 11:24-26

“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”

First let me clear up the potentially confusing part:

This is not political!

Now let me explain this a bit:

This particular passage basically says “Some people give all they have, yet they always have what they need or more. Others hold onto everything they think they have, but they really have nothing. The former are loved and lavished upon. The latter are hated.”

Misers versus Givers

Do you know the story by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol? I am specifically talking about Ebenezer Scrooge.

He is known as the stingiest man in town. He counts every cent, never spends more than he absolutely has to, and is not very kind to others.

Nobody likes him.

And the Ghost of Christmas-Yet-to-Come shows him dying alone and his stuff stolen by nere-do-wells who complain about and ridicule him.

Conversely, I know a family who is always struggling to make ends meet. Yet they always have enough food to eat. In fact, they have dozens of people visit on an average of at least once a week. They have been literal and figurative foster parents to many children, teens, and young adults, and their biological children always know they are loved and accepted. They have traveled all over and impacted so many …

… because they give their all, their everything, for all people.

Physical and Spiritual

To be truly blessed in this life, we need to be willing to give up everything. This means money, things, cars, homes, stuff, and even people.

To be truly blessed, we need to be willing to give up literally everything. We need to be willing to die. Die physically and figuratively to our own selves, our wants and desires, our plans and hopes.

In their place, we must put the Love of God. God is our greatest hope, should be our greatest desire, and be the foundation of all our plans and our lives.

Then we will not be able to help loving others and giving of ourselves.

Ask that family.

Gracious and loving Father, instill in us a desire to love. Fill us with a passion for others. Give us more of You than we can handle that we may see You overflow into others. Do not let us get stuck on things and silly desires. Free us to free others.


Don’t Be Pig Jewelry

Proverbs 11:22

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”

Proverb or Nonverb?

If you want to run a great quiz round, make up a load of proverbs, mix them in with little beauties like this, and then ask which is the genuine article. I guarantee you will catch some people out. But just because a Proverb sounds made up doesn’t mean it lacks wisdom, or indeed a lesson for us to learn.

Pig Jewelry

As we look into this idea of pig adornment, we discover a theme repeated throughout the Bible: the contrast between the image we present and the person we are. Despite this, we spend an inordinate amount of time working on the outside rather than the inside, and yet the outside makes up for so little of who we are and is often easy to see past.

Consider how small the gold ring is compared to the pig. It may catch our eye, initially (after all it is gold), but let’s be honest, no amount of gold is going to hide the fact it is stuck on a pig.

The Eye of the Beholder

Similarly beautiful women may turn a man’s head, but my experience is that if there is no substance beneath the beauty, no discretion, then the attraction is waning. I may tolerate them, but it is clear they are a pig – so to speak.

But what happens when I turn this mirror to my own life? Do I see a gold ring, or a pig? Is my “beauty” being wasted on a muddy snout?

Beauty for Ashes

In truth, it matters little what I see, but how God sees me. Can I believe that Jesus loves me despite myself? It may be hard to believe, but he does! That’s the truth on which I will stand.

Isaiah 61:3 “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…”


A Sure Reward

Proverbs 11:18

“The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.”

Criminal Justice

National and international systems of justice and punishment exist to deter citizens from engaging in criminal behavior. Yet despite the threat of fines, imprisonment, or even death, there are those who believe that they can escape justice and live their lives at odds with society. On the basis that not all criminals are caught and punished it could be argued that the first part of the above proverb is not true.

Temporary Benefit

Where this proverb is correct is in its assessment of the rewards that criminals can expect. Take the case of Mr Eddie Maher. Mr Maher used to drive an armored vehicle in the UK. He disappeared along with more than £1.3 million back in 1993, but was later arrested in the USA (February 2012) and ultimately sentenced to five years jail time in the UK after a plea deal (March 2013). It seems that Mr Maher (or Fast Eddie as the press calls him) had not been living a life of luxury while hiding from justice. When arrested by the FBI he was working as a broadband cable technician. It appears that Fast Eddie had spent the last nineteen years moving from one small US town to another, constantly looking over his shoulder. I wonder what happened to the money? Did it all get blown in the first year?

Eternity

Despite his conviction, all is not lost for Fast Eddie. Being found guilty, he will have to accept the punishment handed down by the judge, but there is still hope. It says so in the second part of Proverbs 11:18, which speaks of a reward that none of us deserve. Because when God looks at our hearts, none of us score any higher than Fast Eddie. But God loves us so much, that he sent His Son to take our punishment.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)

There is a sure reward. It is not like the reward that Fast Eddie’s daughter-in-law is trying to claim for turning him in (£100,000). It is a reward that none of us deserve. It is a reward of forgiveness. It is the reward of eternal life. But, we have to consider what we are sowing:

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:7-10 (NIV)


Strong Mercy

Proverbs 11:17

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.”

“I Pardon You”

As I thought about this verse, a scene from a movie came to mind. In Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece by Steven Spielburg, two characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, discuss what should be done with Jewish prisoners.

Seeing that Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) was a cruel and sadistic concentration camp commander, Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to convince him that the greatest exhibition of power is not in killing people, but pardoning them.

Schindler:  They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.

Goeth: You think that’s power.

Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.

Later in the film, Goeth almost decides to not punish a young boy for not cleaning his bath tub well enough. Instead of beating him, he looks at the boy (remembering Schindler’s words), and says, “I pardon you.” The boy then runs outside as Goeth begings to stare into the mirror, pointing to himself like a Michelangelo painting, and repeating the words, “I pardon you.”

It was only a moment later that Goeth notices a stain on the bath tub. His anger boiled as he picked up his rifle and shot the boy who was now walking to his barracks.

Mercy is Medicine

Just the other day, even though I was broke, I gave the last $20 I had to a man and his wife who had nothing. I am not writing this in order to get a pat on the back, but in order to make a point. The point is that I had no problem sleeping that night. My kindness was a small sacrifice.

However, to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has hurt you, can be a tremendous sacrifice. Showing mercy means you give up something, like justice, payback, and revenge. But, there is no greater salve to the soul than showing mercy to the one who least deserves it.

The cruel person feels justified for his actions. But cruelty, no matter how it is rationalized, whether it be towards man or beast, is an acid that eats away at the soul.

Are you suffering from the effects of bitterness? Are you troubled by your anger? There is a cure. It’s called mercy.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Maybe some of those demanding “justice” should think about this.


Wicked Fear

Proverbs 10:24

“The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”
Scary Things

There are not many of things that scare me now that I am an adult. However, as a child I lived in dread of a lot of things. I was afraid of vampires, clowns, Russians, and girls with cooties. Now I know that vampires can be killed with a good flashlight (the handle part, that is), and Russia is less of a threat than China. Clowns and girls are still a problem, though.

On the other hand, I used to love to fly in airplanes, drink from unwashed soda cans and public water fountains, and drive sports cars at ungodly rates of speed down curvy mountain roads. Now I know that it takes a long time to fall from 30,000 feet, germs are everywhere, and deer have a habit of walking in front of good drivers.

But the biggest thing is that most of the scary things in life are either in my mind, or avoidable. I have no fear of them eventually catching up with me. If killer bees get too close, I’ll just move. The wicked, however, have no such hope.

Gonna Getcha

I like the way the NIV translates the first part of this verse, “What the wicked dreads will overtake him…” Verse 24 is telling us that the wicked are running from something, while the righteous are running to something. And more than that, whatever the wicked are fleeing will eventually catch up.

What do the wicked fear? What will eventually overtake them? A few things come to mind: being alone, pain, loss, falling, and death.  Huh…coincidentally, all of those will be present in hell. Go figure.

Gonna Grant It

But for the righteous…the ones who know every good gift is from God, the ones who know grace can’t be earned…their desires will be granted.

Amazing, isn’t it? What does the righteous desire? To be loved. To be healed. To have treasure that won’t decay. To be caught up. To have eternal life. Wow! Everything that heaven will bring!

But there’s one more thing: the righteous will welcomed into the presence of their greatest Desire – Jesus.

Don’t run from Jesus. Run to Him. Make Jesus your desire.


Blessings Will Stick

Proverbs 10:6

“Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Nothing Stays

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Like water off a duck’s back?” The reason for that saying comes from the fact that ducks never get “wet,” just in the water ( now that will preach!). You see, because of the oil in a duck’s feathers, the duck can be in the water, have water poured over it, etc., but never actually get wet. The water doesn’t soak in, but runs off.

My head is similar to a duck’s back. There is nothing on my head to make anything stay put. Everything just runs off, down my neck, and under my shirt, especially when it rains. The upside is that I never have to dry my hair when I get out of the shower.

Except Blessings

But the awesome thing is that no matter how slick my bald head is, God is able to heap blessing after blessing on top of it. My glasses won’t stay put; hats get blown off; I cant wear flowers; but the Lord can pile blessings as high as He wants. How is that? Must be a God thing.

I don’t deserve blessings. I don’t deserve anything from God. If you only knew me like I know me, you’d wonder how any blessing would stay on my head. Yet, my Lord is merciful. He is able to do what man and water can’t.

The Wicked

The mouth of the wicked, on the other hand, is covered up with violence. What that means exactly is debatable, but the idea implied is that one usually gets what he deserves. The wicked can be compared to a swimmer in wool clothing and a wool coat. When he gets in the water, he’s sunk.

In General

Generally speaking, this proverb tells us that there are consequences for our actions. The way we live will come back either to bless or haunt us. Right living brings peace, while wicked living never ends well.

Do you want to be thought well of? Live justly. Do you want to reap the rewards of righteousness? Live right. Otherwise, even though there may be some temporary benefits to living like the Devil, the end result of wickedness will have you covering your mouth in shame.

A Prayer

Jesus, even though I am not worthy, thank you for your blessings. My righteousness is in you. I am only “just” because “the just shall live by faith.”  Thank you for your mercy, for when I was yet wicked, you saved me, cleansed me, and put a crown on my head. You are my glory, and I will praise you for your immeasurable goodness to me.