Friday Thoughts...Mercy Trumps Law


Mercy Trumps Law

Most of us have heard the story of the Prodigal Son from the time we were young. In this story (Luke 15:11ff) we actually read of two sons. One son was defiant and reckless, selfishly leaving home and living a life of debauchery until he ends up in humiliating circumstances, penniless and eating slop out of a pig trough. The other son was compliant and obedient. He didn’t run away like the younger son; he didn’t blow his inheritance on all sorts of debauchery; he stayed home and worked responsibly and played by the rules – and he was proud of it. Outwardly these two sons were exceedingly different but inwardly they are exactly the same! One was a proud and arrogant rule-breaker. The other was a proud and arrogant rule-keeper. They were both in danger of judgment for their idolatrous self-reliance and in need of mercy.

In Luke 15:17ff we are introduced to the Father who is the one who has the authority to either act in judgment or mercy. And what we read about is a Father who instead of judging is welcoming, loving, and gracious. This is a Father who is merciful towards his two sons; his outwardly rule-breaking and inwardly defiant, rebellious son, AND his outwardly rule-keeping yet inwardly defiant, rebellious son. Both sons had broken the law and deserved judgment but the Father extended mercy instead. Mercy trumped the law.

This, of course, is a picture of the good news of the gospel. We are all law-breakers on the inside. Even the “sweetest” of us is in need of mercy before Holy God. Some of us are outwardly rebellious rule-breakers, some of us are compliant, rule-keepers – but we are ALL in need of mercy. And that is exactly what we have received from the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. (Eph. 2:4ff; 1 Peter 1:3; 3:18). Mercifully, the Father has lovingly, graciously welcomed us to Himself. Amazing!

So, dear church family, the mercy that we’ve received from our welcoming Father must be applied in our relationships, our marriages, and our parenting. It is a great temptation, when treated poorly or sinned against, to refrain from mercy towards someone whether it’s a friend, co-worker, a spouse, children, or our parents. But God would remind us that we who have received the most extreme mercy imaginable through the love of God in Christ Jesus should be increasingly marked by mercy towards others no matter the situation. Jesus himself said, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

So, let the light of the glorious, merciful, law trumping gospel shine in you and through you as you remind yourself of and point others to the mercy of the welcoming Father.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father!