Mercy and Truth
God's mercy is beyond anything that we can imagine
At the heart of the matter
The Pharisees had asked the disciples, "why does your master eat with publicans and sinners?" And Jesus heard this and said: " Go and learn what this means. I desire mercy and not sacrifice." Matthew 9:13.
He continued by saying, "I have come for sinners and not the righteous."
The Pharisees had demonstrated that they had little mercy. Even the very question that they asked, "why is he eating with publicans and sinners?" Showed that their own righteousness was greater than mercy in their eyes.
When Jesus spoke again and said to the Pharisees, "I have come for sinners and not the righteous," He was not calling them righteous. He spoke words that were glaringly true. There He was, the Messiah, the one that even Moses prophesied about, and they were asking why He was eating with sinners? The very question revealed the state of their hearts. They didn't eat with sinners, they were self-righteous. They certainly didn't see that they had need of a savoir.
So, the question remains unspoken but clearly seen between the lines. If a person believes that he or she is righteous, that person would never see the need of a Savoir. How could God work with those who were not even true to their own hearts? However, sinners? They know that they have fallen short, they know that they need the power that only comes from God to overcome their sins, and they know that only Jesus can cleanse them of all unrighteousness.
Parable of the two men who went into the temple to pray
There's a parable that Jesus told about two men who went into the temple to pray, one of the two was a Pharisee, the other a Publican.
The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. Luke 18:11-12
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Luke 18:13
I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. Luke 18:14
Jesus said that the Publican "went to his house justified, rather than the other..." He even took it further by showing that a self-righteous man is exalted in his own heart. The other man was very humble and honest, not only with God but also with himself.
If we can't be honest with ourselves, how can we be honest with God?
Being honest with ourselves
Nothing is hidden
Consider the day that God asked Cain, "Where is your brother," after Cain slew Able. Rather than answer God truthfully, Cain responded with, "Am I my brothers keeper?"
God already knew that Cain had killed Able. Nothing is hidden from God. Cain never showed remorse for murdering his brother and rather than confess his sin and ask God for forgiveness Cain used sarcasm to answer.
Even after judgement came, Cain was only concerned about his punishment, and still showed no remorse for killing his brother. There is not one example within the scriptures where Cain repented.
Nothing is hidden
We as people have this natural tendency to think that since others can't hear our thoughts our thoughts are completely hidden. While it's true that other people can not read our minds, our thoughts are not hidden from God ever.
Paul spoke about those in Christ having their minds renewed, and not being conformed to the ways of this world. As believers in Christ, as we mature in Him the old man is done away with, and we are made new. This is why the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinth's: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2
God tests us as we mature and grow. He tests whether or not we will respond to trials and temptations as the world does, or if we will respond by the spirit of Christ in us and by His instruction to us.
As we mature and grow there should be changes in us. Even changes that we ourselves can recognize.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Those who come to the light
God shines light into darkness
Those who come to the light
For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. John 3:20-21
God knows us through and through, and it is His desire that no man should perish. We may not see ourselves as being "forgivable." But God's mercy is far greater than anything that we can do or say.
He wants us to know that He can see our hearts, and He already knows the effects that the world has had on each of us. He is always sending out the call, "come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me." Matthew 11:29
A heart matter
God had sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the man who would be king of all Israel following the removal of king Saul. Samuel was looking at the stature and the attractiveness of each of Jesse's sons, because the natural man associates appearances with how good, strong or capable a person may be. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
God sees our hearts. He is simply waiting for us to be honest with Him so that we can be molded into the image that He originally created us to be. When we come to Him, and confess our sins He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
That's how great His mercy is.
Many times we learn the greatest lessons through our failures. God knows this, He knows that we are fallible. He can take our failures and our shortcomings and make them into something that will glorify Him. The changes that He brings into a persons life who sets his or her heart on taking up the cross and following Jesus, are promised to each and every one of us. God can take us from this natural and fallen state, and turn us into His very own children who stand firm on His word and seek His guidance in everything.
Believers can fall short
Even as believers we can fall short. Consider that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times when Jesus was arrested and taken for trail. Later Peter wouldn't sit with the Gentiles and even Paul pointed out his shortcoming. This did not change God's love for Peter, or the hope that God has for all who believe and seek Him with all their hearts, minds, and strength. Rather, Peter learned through both of these examples, just as we learn in our short comings.
When we fall short, God does correct us and with His correction comes truth that we, at that point on can walk in.
"Thus, mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other."
All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalms 25:10
For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Psalms 57:10
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth. Psalms 86:15