Aloha Friday Message – December 13, 2013 – Mercy: Part 3

1350AFC121313 – A Perfectly Good God

Read it online here, please.

James 2:13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (English Standard Version)

NJB James 2:13Whoever acts without mercy will be judged without mercy but mercy can afford to laugh at judgment.

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (New American Standard Bible)

Psalm 107:1O Give thanks to the Lord for he is Good;  for his mercy endures forever. (Jubilee Bible 2000)

Chronicles 16:34O give thanks to the Lord,  for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

There but for the Grace of God …

In the past two weeks we have considered God’s Mercy. We looked first at Mercy in the perspective of his Omnipotence which is characterized by his Perfect Justice, Perfect Love, Perfect Righteousness, Perfect Kindness, and all these perfections empower him to grant us Perfect Mercy. Because of his Mercy, we are completely cleared of our sins and thereby Justified through his Grace. Next, we looked at God’s Mercy from the perspective of his Omniscience. He knows everything about us and our lives from the moment he spoke the first words of creation “Let there be…” up until the Day of Resurrection and beyond. Because he knows everything and everybody everywhere in every time and every place, he alone can render Perfect Mercy because he alone can know every circumstance of our existence. The result is called Universal Prevenient Grace (prēˈvēnēənt) which is a term that describes the kind of Grace that is always present and available, even before it is needed. Today the “omni” word is Omnibenevolence. As with the other omni words, the derivation of the word is more toward the idea of completeness or all-inclusive rather than infinitely [something].

Omnibenevolence is omni – all – and benevolence – goodness, generosity, compassion, kindness, goodwill, charitable, lovingkindness, as in a form of love characterized by acts of incredible and completely unexpected kindness. Recall that we said God is prepared to give us his Mercy before, during, and after our sin and if our hearts and minds turn from sin to repentance, his Mercy turns into his Forgiveness. If I were to try to visualize this phenomenon, I would say it looks like a sea of troubles on one side and an army of sins on the other. I am caught between (literally) the devil and the deep blue sea, and God’s infinite mercy is surrounding the whole scene. The army of sin engages me, but as soon as I repent, God’s Mercy transforms into God’s Salvation and I am rescued from both the army and the sea. Sometimes the sea parts and I walk through safely; and sometimes the army parts – or even flees – and I escape unscathed. I am saved. God’s Great Goodness is my salvation, and that is good.

I have a dear friend Karen who often says, “What a Good God we have!” And she is right. God has perfect power and perfect knowledge, and with those he dispenses perfect Justice tempered with Perfect Mercy, so it seems right to believe he is a Perfectly Moral Being capable of Perfect Goodness. He chooses to implement that goodness in and on behalf of the creatures he created to be beneficiaries of his Goodness. When it comes to implementing that goodness, sharing those graces that enrich our lives, he is extravagantly generous, even when we are not.

SameQuestionGod is always taking care of us, and – as we saw last week – the only way we can mess that up is to actively resist his care and his presence. Even in that circumstance, he still takes care of us; as Jesus said, “… he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust;” (Matthew 5:45) and he also says about the goodness of his Father “… because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35). In both of these verses, Jesus is telling his listeners to love their enemies, the antithesis of what they have been taught for millennia, and that they should do this because it is what God desires, for he himself has forgiven and even blessed his enemies. We are created in his image; therefore, we should strive be good as he is Good. God is magnificently Benevolent; we are to be benevolent to the point where our benevolence becomes sacrificial. God is not served by stinginess (See Malachi 3:10); but, he will even bless with incredible abundance those who are stingy with their gifts to him and to his creatures.

And you know, that’s really the way God does things. He wants us to be like him – that’s why he made us in his image and likeness – and he wants us to be as good to each other as he is Good to us. He wants to fellowship with us, to walk amidst us as a dear and trusted friend who can enjoy doing everything with us because what we do is what he does. That divine closeness was fractured in Eden, and we are slowly repairing that fracture every time we cooperate with his will – every time we do as Jesus commanded when he said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Paul gave us another example when he said in Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. God himself said, “For I desire steadfast love [mercy, lovingkindness] and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. The sacrifices of adoration, thanksgiving, and praise are the kind of worship God desires. The sacrifice of obedience is what God expects when we worship. Those things are pretty hard to fake so he commands they come from our hearts and not just our lips. He doesn’t want or need imitations of love, but rather love like his – steadfast, unwavering, and unconditional.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and flattery is insincere or excessive praise, then we ought not try to imitate God’s Omnibenevolence, but rather try to emulate it. An imitation is a cheap substitute and can even be a negative portrayal of something. When we emulate we try to match or exceed the qualities we perceive in the object of our emulation. In this case we endeavor to live in God’s Universal Prevenient Grace – his tender mercies.

Through God’s Omnipotence we are justified. Through God’s Omniscience we are redeemed. Through God’s Omnibenevolence, his Great Goodness, we have the gift of Salvation. If we look at the quote from the letter of James, the word judgment in Greek is κρίσις (krisis) {kree’-sis}. It is the kind of Divine Judgment that includes accusation, condemnation, and damnation as well as testimony, approbation, and exoneration. It is very serious and that means a separation of the good and the evil, the sheep and the goats. In the same verse, the word triumphs means more that “wins the victory.” It is κατακαυχάομαι (katakauchaomai) {kat-ak-ow-khah’-om-ahee} and it means to glory against, to exult over, to boast one’s self to the injury (of a person or thing), to celebrate a victory by sharply contrasting the good against the evil, to get down and boogie because we won. When we are not merciful in our judgments, we will not be shown mercy; when we are merciful, the mercy we show trumps that judgment of condemnation, and brings us into the Light of his glory and grace (you really should listen to this one.)

We know, then, that God wants us to be like him. He wants it so much he stacks the deck in our favor making it ridiculously easy to become what he seeks and to do what he desires. All we have to do is repent, to be unselfish as he is. I heard something from Fr. Gerry recently that really caught my attention. Eve and Adam stepped into sin and out of Paradise because of selfishness. Here’s how I see it: The serpent appealed to Eve’s love of God and told her, “He’s trying to trick you. He doesn’t want you to be like him. He knows if you do this you will be like him, and you can be his equal.” Eve, selfishly, thought she could become more than what God had created her to be – perfect and eternal; she desired that unquantified “more” and took the knowledge offered. When she realized what she had done, she offered Adam that knowledge. He already knew she had broken God’s commands, but he took what she offered anyway. Hence, it is Adam’s sin for he partook though he already saw it was wrong.

Within the hour of that first sin, God had promised a Redeemer, “for his steadfast love [mercy] endureth forever.” What a Good God we have!!

To learn more about this amazing idea of omnibenovlence, Please follow this link to Romans 10:1-21.

Share-A-Prayer

For FB – Hospitalized with multiple health problems including Shingles that has gone into her eye.

For JE – Finished first course of chemo. It was not pleasant, but it was completed, so that’s a good beginning.

For GW & CW – Hospice is more difficult each passing week. Lend them your strength through your prayers.

For the people of South Africa, the Philippines, and across the whole world – pray for people who have experienced great loss. “There but for the Grace of God …” Pray that they will see God’s grace in their healing and recovery.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick 🙂

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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