And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. – Lk. 18:13 KJV
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Mercy is shown usually by someone who has the ability to mete out punishment to another based on an offence that the offending party has committed. The person no doubt has been proven guilty of the offence and all that is left is for the punishment to be implemented.
So why would anyone be asking for mercy? It would imply that he or she has committed an offence for which there is an admission or conviction of guilt and so there is a consequent act of penalty awaiting the person.
Why then would a Christian need mercy? Basically for two reasons:
1. For acts of inconvenience that is causing pain or depriving the person of some comfort in this world. This may be
a. Due to transgression of the laws of God.
b. Caused by negative powers of this world due to one’s conscious or unconscious acts.
c. Due to the oppressive powers of darkness in this world resulting from no fault of the victim.
d. Being a reward of acts of parents and/or ancestral lineage.
2. To avoid missing heaven after this life because the person is convinced that he/she cannot scale successfully the conditions for making heaven. This applies mainly to Christians as accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour does not in most cases stop them from sinning but with mercy they are able to avoid the penalty due to sinners.
Although they are able to avoid some acts of transgression, they still find themselves in sin mostly due to the demands of life and flesh. Being in this situation their being born again does not make them escape the penalty of their transgression as accepting Christ only gives assurance of where they spend eternity but acts performed here, good or bad plays a huge role on how they spend eternity. These of course are two objectives that require separate conditions – where you spend eternity and how you spend eternity.
The implication of both is that there is lack of peace in this world and even in the world after. Christians need to understand that all acts of goodness are like credits into an account that one can draw on when one has needs but negative acts tend to have negative effects on one’s credibility as the adversary is eager to use these points against us on each occasion that we intend to draw down on our credit (when we are asking God for one good thing or the other). The truth is that one may not even have any credit to draw down on in order to meet that request and God will still grant it simply because God decided not to look at the person’s credit rating. No matter our credit standing with the Lord, sin tends to wipe out all credits once we commit it and this leaves our credit balance most times in deficit when we are asking in prayer. If God is to mark performance at that point of asking in prayers, the bible says , no one will stand – Ps. 130:3. Not even that Pastor, Prophet, Bishop or that spiritual leader.
In view of the constant deficit nature of the account of the Christian before the Lord, it becomes necessary to constantly plead with God since it remains his sole discretion to grant mercy at such times. No one at those times can be justified by any act of goodness as all such good acts would have been negated by even the simple thought of being a perfect person that has enough good works to guarantee a favourable answer – Rom. 3:10; Ps. 14: 2-3.
The Pharisee in our text for today was not lying about all those acts (Lk. 18: 11-12) neither was any of those acts not sufficient to earn credits but Jesus Christ said he did not go home justified (Lk. 18:14) because merely boasting about those acts wiped off all those credits that he was relying on to justify his receiving a positive response to his request.
You are equally in the same position if not even worse because unlike the Pharisee you may not even have as much good works to reference in your Christian life and yet you desire positive answer to your prayers. It should however be noted that accepting Christ as your Lord and Saviour is a pre-requisite to enjoying mercy in heaven as any thing other than that will move the person to Hell where mercy will not be useful. The only thing that is available there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There is the need for you the Christian to note always that you have no good works (Rom. 3:10) that can justify that blessing that you are enjoying as all that was available for you was mercy which the father gives to whom ever He wishes – Ex. 33:19. Plead with God for mercy today. Tell Him to grant you mercy regarding that desire that you have presented to Him. Plead with him to grant you mercy in all your undertakings but also position yourself to receive His mercy by avoiding deliberate sin (Rom. 6:1) and continue to aspire to perfection – Matt. 5:48. That same God that sees your intention will show you mercy and grant all your desires in Jesus name. Amen.