Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,2 Corinthians 4:1
Did you have a grandmother like mine? In my grandmother’s house there were smells and expressions that told me I was loved and safe. Smiles, fresh-baked chocolate chip (or oatmeal) cookies, and hugs were common. So, there I felt safe and loved. Now, it wasn’t a perfect home. My grandfather swore a bit. It was a farm, so rougher language and louder speech was common, but I never felt unsafe there. There were also large farm implements, large farm animals, barbed wire, and bees and wasps. Yet, I never felt unsafe there. Why? I always felt safe because I knew I was loved there.
In my grandmother’s house, the language of love was cookies, hugs and smiles. In my grandmother’s house, love was a settled thing. It gets me thinking, is my understanding of God’s love settled like that? In our homes we have words that tell us we are loved. Those expressions tell us we are accepted. They make us feel safe. Do we hear the words that God uses to tell us the same thing?
In the Scripture, some of those words are the same. However, there are three important words that we don’t use as often in our families that are profound words in the Scripture. These words are mercy, grace, and called (chosen). These words are used throughout the New Testament to encourage Christians to know the certainty of God’s love. Did you notice how Paul uses it in the verse at the top of this post? He says that the mercy we have received makes us not lose heart! This wonderful mercy that we have received tells us that we can have confidence right in the middle of life’s messiness.
Where does Paul say that we can have such confidence? Verse 2 says that we can have the confidence of God’s love in our fight against sin. Verse 2 also says that this mercy is so wonderful that we don’t have to add to or take away from the good news of Jesus to make it better. Verses 3-6 tell us that we can share the love of Jesus with confidence because the God who created light in darkness is still shining a light in our hearts! Verses 7-11 are the famous verses that declare that we don’t lose heart even though we live in broken clay pots. Those pots can be broken due to age, infirmity, or by the actions of others. Yet, this mercy we have received keeps us from losing heart because each struggle becomes an opportunity. They are an opportunity to live for Jesus and an opportunity to know this mercy and love even more.
How can brokenness be an opportunity to shine for Jesus? How can brokenness show us that we are loved? Brokenness becomes an opportunity to shine when those struggles make us lean into the love of God that we have learned about in His Word. In those moments we discover that His love is still right there. When, in our brokenness, we understand that Jesus, too, was broken specifically as God’s act of love for us, then our brokenness no longer threatens our understanding of God’s love for us. Like a supportive family that you know is always in your corner, this love of God is an immovable rock in our life. It is the rock we stand on. It is the rock we run to when we don’t understand life. God’s love, declared definitively in the death and resurrection of Jesus, is settled.
This is the challenge for us: to hear the words ‘mercy’, ‘grace’, and ‘called’ as God’s words of love to us. We are used to our words that make us feel loved: hugs, smiles, and chocolate chip cookies. You won’t find those words in Scripture! Yet, we must hear the words that God uses! They are there and they declare that God’s love for His people is settled. That settled and extravagant love is the source of God’s people’s profound confidence. Consider these verses (the highlights are mine):
Romans 9:26 26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
1 Corinthians 1:24 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Colossians 3:15 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Romans 15:9 9 and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.”
Ephesians 2:4-6 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
1 Timothy 1:13-16 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; 14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. 15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
Titus 3:5-7 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Hebrews 4:16 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So, do you hear God’s love for you? I do. I hear that God loves me in such glorious wonder. It’s not the way Grandma said it. It isn’t said with hugs, smiles, and chocolate chip cookies. Yet, God’s love is even more settled. Let this love blossom in your heart and give your life confidence. It is the confidence of knowing that you are loved. It is the confidence that knows that this love is settled.
Something to think about,