There are many non-Christians who would like to paint God as being harsh, vindictive and one who metes out punishment for the smallest thing. They ask how could we Christians worship such a God and cite many of the harsh acts of judgement and the laws in the Old Testament as examples to justify their position.
But they do not know God and are not known by Him. They do recognise the love of God and the mercy He shows us when we seek Him out and come to Him through Jesus Christ.
God is a merciful God. This section of scripture at the start of Acts 20 is evidence of His mercy. And there are so many more examples of His mercy towards us that they bear discussing so we can remember, take heart and hold onto our hope in Jesus Christ.
The first part of this chapter shows the journeying of Paul and his follow travellers as they moved across the ancient world. They were heading back to Jerusalem and hoping to arrive before the day of Pentecost.
As they came into different ports they spoke to the assembled disciples, encouraging and teaching them the ways of Jesus and the new covenant. When they reached Troas they were gathered together on the first day of the week in a third story room where Paul spoke to the people all night long until dawn the next day.
It was at around midnight that a young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window ledge of the room, fell into a deep sleep and fell from the open window, three stories to the ground below and was found to be dead.
But The Lord was merciful that night. When Paul came down to see the young man, he bent over him and took him in his arms and said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is still in him.” (Vs 10) Paul then went back upstairs and continued to speak on The Lord until daybreak. And the people were greatly comforted because the young man was taken away, probably to go to bed if he was so tired, but very much alive.
This is truly the actions of a merciful God. The people had been gathered together to hear the word of The Lord when this terrible tragedy occurred, and The Lord rescued the young man by restoring his life. God’s mercy allowed the people to be comforted and also the miracle of mercy bore witness to the truth of what they were hearing from Paul.
A Merciful God
The underlying premise of the new covenant, or one of them, is mercy. The foundations of God’s grace rests on mercy. Grace can be described as the “undeserved kindness and mercy of God towards man.”
It is through the grace of God alone that we can come to a place where our sins are forgiven, the yoke of the law is lifted and the gifts of God such as righteousness, freedom and the Holy Spirit are given to us to do the work of transformation. These are clear examples of the mercy of God towards us for we are indeed undeserving of His attention, let alone His love and grace.
When man chose to turn away from God in the actions of Adam and Eve, we stepped away from the God of love. Man became a sinner and it was the ugliness of sin that drove a wedge between us and God. That wedge was impenetrable for God said he would have nothing to do with sinners.
So we have a state of impasse where God would have nothing to do with man, and man could do nothing to come back into the good graces of God. This was truly a no-win situation with only one possible solution.
To break the impasse between man and God requires the one who has the power (God) to make a decision to overlook the mistakes, flaws, issues, problems, history, and in our case the sins and for man to accept such terms so that a state of dialogue can be established. To find a place of peace so that a restoration could be effected required the direct action of God to overlook our sins and remove the wedge of sin between man and God so that He could work with us to bring us back to perfection.
This is what grace is all about, and for this whole process to occur required great mercy on the part of God for it was He who was outraged by the sins of man and it was He who had been betrayed by man when man turned aside from Him. It required great mercy to first forgive man, then to hold man in that state of forgiveness knowing that man would continue to fall while he was learning the truth and the true ways that God wants man to live under and to walk by.
In His mercy God gave us Jesus Christ to bear our sins and to show us the way. Jesus is the greates gift of God ever given to man because it is by Him and through Him that God’s mercy, love, compassion and grace come to us. It is when we seek Jesus that God’s love is poured out for us so that we can learn His ways and see the examples of mercy, grace, love and all the many aspects of God that became evident in the life Jesus led.
His Judgement Is Just
For the naysayers who still believe God is harsh and judgemental I say, look to Jesus. He is the one God sent to show us just how great the mercy of God truly is. And seek God through Jesus for then you will begin to understand that the things man calls harsh in God’s laws and the incidents that are put up as examples of the harshness of God in the Old Testament by those who do not understand also had a purpose and even that purpose is based on the wisdom of God.
God would have nothing to do with sinners and those who chose to disobey and to reject God and who opposed Him bore their judgement for their beliefs and actions. Every person will suffer the consequences of their thoughts, deeds and actions, whether it is to reap the benefits of doing what will please God, or to reap judgement for those who choose not to please Him.
The judgement of God is just for He does not punish those who do not deserve punishment and He does not allow those who are wrongly punished by other men to suffer long. God watches over His people, those who have come to Him, and He protects, saves, comforts and carries them as and when needed. He even restores life to those who suffer if that is needed as we saw in this section of Acts 20.
Gos is indeed a merciful God and it is our responsibility to learn from Him and understand His ways so we can be beneficiaries of His grace, mercy and love.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng & other photos from this person can be found at www.goodfreephotos.com)
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