Day 16

Give Thanks for God’s Mercy

from the reading plan

Luke 7:36-50, Ephesians 2:4-10, 2 Corinthians 4:7-15

Changing our perspective often helps us see things we couldn’t otherwise see. This is one of the reasons I like to go to the mountains every so often. In the relatively flat landscape of the Midwest, there just isn’t much in the way of challenging terrain around me. But if you put me in the Rocky Mountains, my perspective changes along with the elevation. Summiting the peak of one of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand-foot mountains is more than a challenge; it’s beyond me. Whether or not I make it all the way to the top, the change in perspective I gain helps me see my life and my heart more clearly.

We often need our perspective on God’s mercy to be challenged so it can be changed. In Luke 7, Simon, who was a Pharisee and a respected religious leader in his community, hosted a dinner for Jesus. In today’s world, such an evening would include classical music, proper attire, and fine dining to honor the guest. But then “a woman in the town who was a sinner” entered the scene and washed Jesus’s feet with her tears before anointing them with expensive perfume. Her presence and her actions could hardly be more scandalous.

As Simon objected to what she was doing, Jesus blindsided him with a parable meant to challenge his perspective. He asked who would appreciate being forgiven a debt more: someone who owed a lot or someone who owed a little? The answer, of course, is the person who owed a lot. The point is that the “sinful” woman had been forgiven a huge debt of sin, so she showed a lot more love to Jesus than the Pharisees, who believed themselves to be pretty good people living pretty great lives but lacked great love.

If we evaluate ourselves from the flatlands of our own righteousness for too long, we may become convinced we’re not that bad or that we’re doing okay. We might reason that since we haven’t committed any terrible sins, we’re actually respectable people who associate with a respectable Jesus. But when we see ourselves and our righteousness from the high mountain peaks of God’s holiness, we see our true condition much more clearly. Instead of being “nice people” who have it all together, apart from Christ we were actually “dead in [our] trespasses and sins” and “by nature children under wrath” (Ephesians 2:1–3). For all our imagined respectability, we stood under the curse of God before receiving His mercy.

We must look from Jesus’s vantage point if we are to be truly thankful for God’s mercy. We have been forgiven much so we can love much. We have been rescued by God’s grace, which we didn’t earn but received through faith. Standing on the mountain of God’s mercy and kindness should cause our hearts to explode with joy and thankfulness. He is so kind! Let’s give thanks today for His unfailing mercy and love.

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