For Father's Day, we'll look at a promise from our Father in Heaven, which changes our world and those around us. I hope you enjoy it.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus sheds light on Salvation, which comes not by the good things we do for God or other people — good works, but from the genuine and gracious love of our Father.
Think about works without God's grace for a second as a means of getting us into Heaven. How many works would be needed to get and keep us saved? What kind would they be? How would we know when we have made it through the pearly gates? Like a tyre with a leak, how would we know at what stage our works have let us down, pulling us back through the gates? What if we are ill and unable to do them and we fall just a metre short?
"According to his mercy." Psychologists and motivational speakers began using the buzzword of forgiveness in the late 1980s. I remember when the term started gaining popularity. Multitudes of books now include forgiveness as a major influence in healing both body and mind. It's a vital ingredient in moving forward in relationships, where someone relies on someone else's mercy.
What if that someone else didn't see a genuine apology? Would they offer forgiveness? Would you expect God to do that?
Mercy and forgiveness originated with God and are seen all through scripture. God has always offered mercy to a repentant heart. Think about Jonah and the repentant Ninevites. A brutal people being given mercy with no penalty due to repentance. In the end, it was Jonah who needed to repent, as he preferred all the Ninevites to die in their sins, despite his preaching. He received mercy from God by not being consumed by the whale but was unprepared to pass the mercy on; I mean unprepared in his heart because he wasn't fully repentant himself at that stage.
When we understand the fullness of what God gives us so beautifully described in our key verses — when we appreciate what we have been forgiven for and what that means in the Kingdom of God, we can't help but pass on mercy.
God took no pleasure in seeing the sins of the Ninevites but rejoiced exceedingly in their voluntary repentance. Neither did he take pleasure in seeing his only begotten Son so barbarously dealt with on the cross, but he delights in the aftermath of that cross — the Salvation of souls.
Bask in the thought of Salvation. What does it mean to you? Put away the Bible and study books for a minute and cast your mind back to that cross. Think of what that fundamental act did for you alone. What was actually nailed to the cross for you? What are the changes in your life? Where would you be headed now if not for Christ?
Then, think about the hope given in this passage to all who come to Jesus. Pause on the wonders in each line. I am enriched and humbled each time I read these words, knowing that my Salvation, which is very real, is due purely to the mercy of Almighty God. It is reliant upon that alone.
Jesus Christ died on the cross for many reasons, but the basic one is that we have more achievable access to God. Taking our scripture at its word, we are now justified to focus on becoming joint-heirs with Christ. Amazing?
Works alone cannot produce that justification. It only comes by the grace of our Lord and Saviour. Dwell on what it means to God in seeing those whose hope is in Jesus Christ. Think about the joy it gives him to see people ask the Holy Spirit into their hearts. Angels rejoice at these words coming from a person's lips, "please forgive me?"
The saying, "Love makes the world go round" is true, as love birth's mercy. Can you imagine a world with abundant mercy? With people forgiving one another other in place of our indignation, sense of privilege and expectation? A far cry from today?
What can mercy between people do?
It can heal self-condemnation, reverse hatred and bitterness, and deflate the judgemental spirit.
A repentant and loving society starts with our own genuinely contrite heart seeking forgiveness from God, then spreading it. It begins with God's abundant mercy portrayed in our key scripture to humanity. That society starts with you and me!
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for extending your mercy to me. It's not often I stop to dwell solely on the cross and what it has done for my life. Thank you for the changes, thanks for your love which has encompassed my life. When I don't feel like showing mercy to others, please remind me of the merciful cross.