Calvin Fridays: Mercy

Portrait of John Calvin, French School

By God’s mercy alone we stand, since by ourselves we are nothing but evil.”- John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 11.

“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”- James 2:13

We begin here; that God’s mercy has triumphed over the judgment due to us Christians. The mercy He has poured out upon us in Christ has wiped away any judgment that was stored up for His people, for all of His judgment for them was poured out upon the Christ while He hung on the tree. God has not given us what we deserve. Then by His mercy we are upheld, because surely, left to our own ways, we are completely evil. He has withheld divine justice from us because He poured out divine justice upon His only Son. All of His people’s sins, all of the adultery, all of the lies, all of the worship of other things, all of the pride, all of the darkness, all of the murder, all of the hate, all of the craftiness and slyness His people accumulated, these things were dealt with at the cross. Mercy is given to those who would come to Christ.

We end here; we must show mercy to others. If we are upheld by God’s mercy, if we have been shown glorious forgiveness in Christ, if all of our sins have been taken upon the back of Christ as He was suspended there, then what right have we to withhold mercy from those who show us harm? We should not, and we cannot. Let’s go further, though. We have been spared to show mercy. It is a blessing to image the Christ, to be a reflector of His brilliance and splendor, and certainly an element of this radiance is His mercy. We have been spared our own sin and the judgment flowing from it to be a blessing, to be mercy-givers, to those around us. Let’s reflect on those around us who need our mercy. One of the things i must remember, and it is a hard lesson to remember, is that mercy did not come to me because i deserved it. No, it came to me because i needed it. Let us remember the great mercy shown to us, the sustaining mercy that grants life to us daily in Christ, and let us stretch out our hands to bestow mercy today, especially, especially upon those that don’t deserve it. For that is the way of the Christ.


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