Today, I decided to define two words.
1. grace: the free and unmerited favor of God
2. mercy: leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person charged with administering justice
(These definitions came from google.com)
The reason I chose these words is because last Sunday, while listening to a friend teach the Junior High Sunday School class, he talked about Rahab, who was a prostitute in the book of Joshua, who was shown grace and mercy by God. This caused me to think about other people in the Bible who were, by today's standards, completely sinful yet were accepted into God's family in spite of everything they had done in their lives.
Even though Rahab had been living a life where she was regularly selling herself, God used her to hide the spies who were sent to scout out the Promised Land. We later see her in the genealogy of Jesus Christ himself. She had been forgiven.
Do you know the story of King David? He was already married, but he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed to try to cover up his sin, yet David is regarded as one of the godliest men in Scripture. How can that be? God showed him grace and mercy. He deserved to die for his sins, but God knew what was in his heart. We can read in Psalm 51 David's prayer to God, asking forgiveness for his sins, asking God to cleanse him. This is what God requires - a penitent heart.
Think about the Apostle Paul. He was a horrible, horrible person. He persecuted Christians. He had them arrested and even gave his approval to the stoning of Stephen. On the way to Damascus to arrest more Christians, he had an encounter with God. He was shown grace and mercy. He was forgiven. God knew what a powerful witness he would have and what great things could be done through him for the Kingdom of God. Paul, however, was humble as a Christian. He gave God all the glory for what his life had become.
We all do things in our lives which separate us from God. In God's eyes, one sin is no worse than another. The only sin that could truly separate us from God's love forever is never accepting His GIFT of salvation. A gift implies that it is free. We can never earn it. On the flip side, there is nothing we can ever do that is so repulsive to God that He would turn His back on us. The Scriptures are full of people who have been accepted into God's family despite all the things they have done. Don't let your past be your stumbling block. Don't miss out on the richness and joy of a life with Christ.