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Communion Meditations (2016)

Worthy Sinners

Romans 12:8

Originally scheduled for May 22

It is a puzzle: if you look at the end of that verse you will see that mercy is to be given cheerfully. The word used for “cheerfully” here is the same root word used in the phrase, “God loves a cheerful giver.” More than that, it’s the Greek word that we adopted into our language as the word “hilarious.” At first glance, it’s not exactly the adverb you’d pick to describe giving mercy. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that the process of rendering mercy often includes a great deal of condescension.

The main reason for this concerns the people to whom we are being merciful. There are those who are sick whose conversation is hard to bear because it’s a constant whine. The poor to whom we render our compassion are often poor because of their own poor choices. In other words, we don’t think them worthy of our mercy.

The example of Christ, on the other hand, is quite instructive here. He did not divide those to whom he gave mercy into the deserving and undeserving. In fact, the entire concept of a “worthy sinner” seems quite foreign to him. In giving mercy, he divided his audience between those who asked and those who didn’t. Those who asked encountered his style of giving:

·         Christ gave with kindness. Even to those who needed the warning, his “go and sin no more” seems a kindly word of warning, not fire and brimstone.

·         Christ gave with humility. Though he is entitled to all honor as the creator and ruler of the universe, he never demanded it of those who sought his mercy.

·         Christ gave with gentleness. He knew that those who asked his mercy often came with fear. By his gentle words he calmed their fears.

·         His mercy comes with patience, for he is not willing that any should perish. Thus he delays the day of judgment.

Whether it is in forbearance — the gentle rain of mercy — or in forgiveness, the cloudburst of mercy, we need to imitate our Lord.

The cross is the supreme example of mercy. Christ found no worthy sinners. He therefore did not render mercy to us because we earned it, but because he loves us. You have freely received this loving mercy; freely give. Indeed, more than freely, cheerfully give.

As you take the cup and bread this morning, remember your Lord sacrifice as an example to you. It is not our worthiness but his love which makes this possible. He has been merciful to you; have you followed his example?

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