The Mercies of God

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Romans 12:1

Chapter 12 marks a major turn in the flow of Romans. For eleven chapters, Paul has explained how God’s own righteousness leads us into a right relationship with him through Christ. Now he begins to spell out some of the real-life implications of this good news. If we take seriously Romans 1-11, then everything in our lives will be different, as Romans 12-16 will begin to clarify. Chapters 1-11 say: “Here is the good news.” Chapters 12-16 say: “Now live it!”

The first words of Romans 12 make it very clear that our living as Christians is necessarily and permanently connected to the good news of God’s love in Christ. The original Greek of these words can be rendered: “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, because of the mercies of God . . .” “Therefore” binds chapters 11-16 to chapters 12-16, the theological to the ethical, the theoretical to the practical. “Mercies of God” sums up the first part of Romans in a short phrase. Through Christ, God has shown the richness of his mercy to all people, to Jews and to Gentiles . . . and to you and me.

The opening of Romans 12 urges us not to do as so many Christians have done, and turn the Christian life into a long list of dos and don’ts that have little to do with God’s love in Christ. Rather, we are to live out our faith in response to the mercies of God. We walk each day in the confidence of God’s grace, knowing in advance that he loves us. Our good works are a response to that love, never a means to earn it. Thus the Christian life is not a heavy burden, but the light yoke of Jesus, lived in joyful acceptance of God’s daily mercies.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you think of God’s “mercies,” what comes to mind? How have you experienced God’s mercy in your life? How does your daily life as a Christian reflect God’s mercy in Christ?

PRAYER: O Lord, I cannot find words to express my thanks for the mercy you have shown me. Indeed, your mercy has been showered upon me so often that it’s only right to refer to your “mercies.” Thank you for once saving me on the field of the Los Angeles Coliseum, as I responded to the invitation of Billy Graham. Thank you for surrounding me with a loving family as I grew up. Thank you for the churches of which I have been a part. Thank you for reminding me again and again of your grace as I heard the Gospel preached or as it was enacted at your table. Thank you for forgiving my sins, and for the freedom I have to confess everything to you without fear.

Thank you, gracious God, for the fact that I live, not in order to earn your favor, but in response to your favor freely given. Thank you for the privilege of joining you in your work in this world. Thank you for allowing me to be, not just a recipient of your mercy, but also a channel of your mercy to others.

O Lord, how I thank you that your mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness, Lord, to me! Amen.