God Is Rich in Mercy

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 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.

Ephesians 2:

Have you ever needed mercy? I expect you have. Maybe you needed mercy when you were pulled over for speeding but hoped to avoid a traffic ticket. Perhaps you made a terrible mistake at work, one worthy of being fired, but wanted to stay on anyway. You needed mercy from your boss. If you're old enough to read this paragraph, I'm sure you can remember a time when you needed mercy.

Mercy is not getting what we deserve. It's being in the wrong, yet not wanting the punishment you deserve. Mercy is when someone forgives you even though you had no claim on that person's forgiveness. Mercy is something we all need from other people from time to time. Mercy is something we desperately need from God or we are utterly without hope.

As we have seen, the first three verses of Ephesians 2 lay out the bad news of our living death as we are in bondage to sin and Satan, standing under God's judgment. But verse 4 makes a sharp U-turn: "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy..." This is an acceptable rendering of the Greek, though a more literal translation would be: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us..." The very first element of the good news is that God is "rich in mercy."

The word translated here as "rich" is used elsewhere in the New Testament in reference to those who were financially wealthy (for example, Mark 12:41). It is related to the word Greek word for "much." One who is rich has a whole lot of something. In God's case, he has a whole lot of mercy. He is merciful, literally, "mercy-full."

This means that when you're in a desperate situation, such as the one described in the first three verses of Ephesians 2, God has more than enough mercy for you. When you need God's help because you have utterly messed up your life, God has the resources to help, more than you will ever need. This is good news, extraordinary good news. And it's just the beginning.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When you think of how God regards you and your sin, are you convinced that he is rich in mercy? If you really believed this, how might you relate differently to God?

PRAYER: I praise you, O Lord, because you are rich in mercy. You show mercy generously, consistently, and joyfully. Your mercy claims and transforms me. It gives me hope. It gives me confidence to press on when I have made a mess of my life. How I thank and praise you today for your mercy! Amen.