Friday, March 11, 2011

Till He Has Mercy On Us

"1To you I lift up my eyes,
   O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2Behold, as the eyes of servants
   look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
   to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
   till he has mercy upon us.

 3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
   for we have had more than enough of contempt.4Our soul has had more than enough
   of the scorn of those who are at ease,
   of the contempt of the proud."

Psalm 123

Receiving restoration or forgiveness requires two things. First, it requires that we acknowledge our need for mercy, our brokenness, our spiritual sickness. Second, it requires knowing who alone can grant this mercy, and turning to them. We do not receive mercy by trying hard to make up for  mistakes. Rather, it is simply coming to God, knowing that we have nothing to offer, that we are poor sinners who are in desperate need of God's restoration, and laying ourselves before him in repentant helplessness. Take an example from the faith of the Canaanite woman in the gospel according to Matthew, and the repentant tax collector in Luke 18. Notice both their recognition of their need for mercy/healing, and their recognition that God alone could provide this. Not their own effort, not their own goodness, not what they deserve. Only grace.

"And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon." 23But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, "Send her away, for she is crying out after us." 24He answered,  "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."25But she came and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, help me." 26And he answered, "It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs." 27She said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table." 28Then Jesus answered her, "O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." And her daughter was healed instantly." Matthew 15:22-28

"9He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other." Luke 18:9-14

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