The tender mercy of God is new every morning.
I have been intrigued by the depth of God’s love in one particular expression of his mercy, a mercy I didn’t quite fathom until recently. It’s the mercy that has transformed many a downtrodden soul with the fresh winds of love and grace. It’s the mercy that removes the sting and stain of sin, offering in their stead, the still waters of peace. I’m referring to the mercy that invites each Christ follower to see him or herself through God’s eyes, to find that he or she is a bearer of the image of the Holy One and to live into this incredible truth!
Take note of the Triune God’s merciful words, “Let us make man in our image, after our own likeness.” (Genesis 1:26) In the Trinity’s omniscience, God created each of us in his own image. This eternal, loving truth invites me to forgive myself when I’ve repented of my sin, and to see myself washed clean by the blood of the lamb. My sin is removed from me as far as the east is from the west, and I’m restored to reflect the very image of God to the world. Hope wells up within me for the future. Joy returns. God’s tender mercy.
For many years, I was perplexed by the story of David and Bathsheba, and how God could refer to David as “a man after God’s own heart” in light of his flagrant sin. David used power and position to lust after another man’s wife and take her to his bed while her husband was away at war. Months later, having learned Bathsheba carried his child, David arranged for the husband to be sent into heavy combat and certain death. Pure, premeditated evil. I couldn’t imagine such a man would find welcome in any of the churches I’ve attended. And how could David live with himself after that? It can only be that David’s repentant heart and his ability to trust the word of his heavenly Father would allow him to see himself restored as the bearer of God’s image, a man after God’s own heart, once again.
I have a young Christian friend who made regrettable decisions while driving intoxicated. With no former record, a few moments of carelessness left one man dead, another injured and altered his own life immeasurably. My young friend was convicted of murder and handed a stiff prison sentence, yet for nearly two years while awaiting his trial, he led others to faith in Christ as he lived and worked in complete freedom. Now, behind bars, how can he find spiritual freedom and abiding peace? Like King David, he can call upon the mercy of God to see himself through the eyes of his heavenly Father. My friend has chosen not to allow his conviction or his sentence to define him, but has taken responsibility for his sin, leaving it at the cross of Jesus, and he walks forward bearing the image of God. His heart fills with peace and clings to hope. By God’s tender mercy, he can see himself through his Father’s eyes.
The endless, unfailing mercy of God defines each one of God’s children as sacred and beloved, created in God’s own image, offering us a fresh start each new day. This is the mercy reflected in God’s love for David, in spite of his corrupting sin. It’s the mercy that nourishes the soul of my young friend in prison, strengthening him to minister to others where he walks as an image bearer of the Holy One. It’s the mercy that enables any child of God to experience freedom from the things that clamor to define her, leaving the sins and memories of a former life at the foot of the cross and recognizing the image of God she bears deep inside.
The creator of heaven and earth is the lover of my soul. God fashioned me in his image, and loves me with his unfathomable love. This is the tender mercy that defines me, and I’m forever grateful.
“A Christian is committed to the belief that Love and Mercy are the most powerful forces on earth.”