Discover His heart: He is mercy and grace
My first real job out of high school was working in the stenographer’s pool at a large bank while I attended college. Different departments throughout the bank called the steno pool when they needed someone to take dictation, do filing, answer phones, etc. The goal of everyone in the pool was to eventually find a permanent position somewhere in the bank.
One employee who had worked there for a long time was a source of irritation for most of us as we waited for our escape because of her poor work ethic. On occasion, I thought how great it would be to file my nails, make personal phone calls or in my case do homework while on company time. It seemed unfair that she was paid for 40 hours each week like the rest of us, but for some reason a measure of grace and mercy was given to her. This was bothersome to us because, in the natural, we don’t want grace for others as much as we want justice! Thankfully, we’re not God.
In Matthew 20, Jesus shared a parable about grace and mercy, “For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.” (1-2) Normal pay for a normal day sounds reasonable. Throughout the day the landowner added workers, even up to the final hour of the workday, and a conflict arose when their pay was divvied out.
“When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. When they received their pay, they protested to the owner, ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’” (10-12) I feel their pain. I’ve heard these simple definitions of mercy and grace: Mercy is not receiving what we do deserve; grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. Matthew 20:1-16 is all over this.
In the same way, it may seem unfair that someone with a death-bed conversion to Christ who lived a pleasure-filled godless life will spend eternity in Heaven with God and with all those who lived submitted and obedient lives to Him. But it is really unfair? Would any of us be so bold as to say we deserve eternity in Heaven because of our righteousness? That any of us will spend eternity with the Lord is only because a righteous God spared us from what we deserved and gave us what we didn’t deserve through our acceptance of Jesus Christ – plain and simple.
As far as my co-worker from so long ago, one day I realized that she had missed the point. She was still in the steno pool long after the rest of us had moved on to a better position in the bank. Mercy kept her employed and grace kept her paycheck coming, but she missed out on all that she could have achieved and enjoyed along the way.
Those who come late in life to the Lord miss out on the abundant life He offers here on earth, and even more so, they miss out on the pleasure that comes from a lifetime of pursuing His purpose for them. God is merciful, but waiting to come to Him does not secure the abundant life on earth He has offered us.
I am ever mindful that God has given each of us assignments to accomplish while we tread this sod, but our purpose, both on earth and in Heaven, is something much different. He has given us life, our very next breath, for the purpose of fellowship and intimacy with Him. Obedience and self-denial may be our path to Him, but anything we surrender is insignificant compared to the pure pleasure of His company!
Moving Forward: I approach this day with a greater understanding and thankfulness for His mercy and grace on my life. Before I accomplish the myriad of things I must do today, I first will pursue the pleasure of His company.
Tomorrow @ I Corinthians 1-2