We occasionally see stories in the news about couponers who get amazing deals. They have these awesome coupons from the manufacturer, they go in on triple coupon days, and by the time they leave they store, they’ve bought $500 worth of groceries for $1.37. I shake my head in awe when I read those stories. I don’t use coupons very much, but when I do, I pull out my coupon and hand it to the cashier only to have them tell me that the coupon expired recently. I don’t do well using coupons.
Expiration dates remind us of how important it is to pay attention to limits. Food can only last so long. Do you have any boxes or cans of food in your pantry that have passed the expiration date by five years or more? Ten years? Or are you afraid to look. For people like me who have problems with expiration dates, we can be grateful that there is no end to God’s love or mercy. We don’t need to get it while supplies last; we don’t need to order it in the next thirty minutes to get the free steak knife set if we pay the shipping and handling. God’s mercy and grace never expires. “His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:50)
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about God’s mercy is that even though I set the stage using the theme of coupons or bargain sale prices, we can’t purchase God’s mercy. God’s mercy is a free gift to all those who turn to Him, to all those who fear Him. I don’t believe that this fear is the cringing fear that you might feel if a bear were chasing you, or the professor announced a pop quiz. Fear of God comes from a recognition of who He is. It comes from the sense of awe that we have when we recognize God as the creator of the universe. It is the recognition that we are sinful people approaching a perfect God. God’s mercy begins when we recognize that we are not worthy of His blessings or His forgiveness, but we seek Him anyway.
Mary uttered these words in response to finding out that she would be the mother of Jesus, who would be the Savior of the world. God’s mercy sought her, and He determined to spread His mercy through a child she would bear. While we aren’t worthy of receiving mercy, His grace reaches out to us. I guess the fact that we get His mercy when we don’t deserve it is what makes it mercy! You can’t “clean up your life” enough to get mercy; you can’t bargain with God to get mercy. Mercy is a free gift of God that flows from the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We are recipients of God’s grace and forgiveness because He loves us enough to extend mercy to all who recognize who He is and seek Him because of that. So today, seek His mercy. Seek the grace of God that comes through Jesus Christ. If you have received His mercy, then seek to show that mercy to others. The mercy and favor of God is the greatest gift imaginable and we have the privilege of showing it to others.
Lord God, thank You for Your mercy to me. Let me show that same mercy to others each day.