Vessels of Mercy

Let us show compassion and mercy as God has shown compassion and mercy to us. Our standard for mercy is neither our neighbor nor ourselves but God, as Jesus said, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Just as we are not God’s judge, we are not our neighbor’s either. Jesus said being a “neighbor” is defined by showing mercy (Luke 10:36-37), and James taught, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (Jas. 2:13). If we are indeed “vessels of mercy” it stands to reason that mercy will flow from us to others.

The Good Life

The Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness” (8:26). The subject is the Holy Spirit, who as the “Helper” whom Christ promised and sent (John 14:16), helps us. The inspired implication is we need the help. But if “we have been justified by faith” and at “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1), and if there is “now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), and if we are children and “heirs of God” (Rom. 8:17), what help do we really need? Should we believe as we often act, or pray the cowboy prayer, “Give us rain and a little luck, God, and we’ll do the rest”?

The Spirit is Life

In conclusion, let me encourage all of us who are tempted to set our minds on the things of the flesh yet have the Spirit of Christ to remember, reflect, realize, and rejoice. Remember that you belong to Christ. You are not your own but were bought with his blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Reflect on the reality that the very Spirit of God dwells in you, a guarantee that you are his child and an ever-present reminder that he is with you, even to the end of the age (verse insert). Realize that “although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life.” Regardless of how you sometimes feel, you are in fact alive in Christ. And rejoice that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and the power of his presence transcends all the trials this world has to offer. So, let him who is greater do greater things in and through you, as you set your mind on the things of the Spirit. For, the Spirit is life.

What the World Needs to Hear

But the faith that God gave Abraham did not falter, as it never will, but grew: “[Abraham] did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do” (Rom. 4:20-21 NET). Therefore, “In hope [Abraham] believed against hope.” Though his circumstances shouted hopelessness, Abraham had hope, not because he looked to himself and his faithfulness but because he looked to the One who promised.

Let God Be True

We need it for salvation. We need it for forgiveness. We need it to live out this faith we have been given. We need it every day. Our flesh will point us back to law, remind us our failures, relish in our disobedience, shackle us to our efforts. The gospel of God’s grace points us to Christ, reminds us of his sufferings, shows us his perfect obedience, and empowers us to live for him. Our flesh may lie that we are condemned by the law, but the gospel truth is: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Judgment Day

Come Judgment Day, he who will be revealed to the world as the Judge, we know as our Savior, leading us not to fear that day but to long for it. For, he will judge the world with righteousness and judge the peoples with equity (Ps. 9:8), and “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). So, we who are saved by God’s grace through faith, standing only in the perfect righteousness of Christ, say, “Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20). Come!

The Gospel of God

Consider the relevance of this: We are called to live holy lives, not to merit God’s favor but to be like him, to grow in godliness, to mature in Christlikeness. As such, to live our lives in holiness is not a burden of conformity but a family trait to be embraced and enjoyed. What is even more extraordinary about this is that our holy God calls us saints, even now, even as we wrestle with our sinful flesh, even as we are on this side of eternal life. We are saints of God, because of God’s grace alone through faith in Christ to the glory of God alone.

Going by Grace

If we are to go into all nations, making, sealing, and teaching, our going must be motivated by something greater than subduing or separating from cultural circumstances. Running for the hills to hide every time the winds of culture change is not what Jesus meant by going and making disciples. And mourning the supposed demise of the church because of political change does not testify to the truth that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Christ. Our going, like our redemption, is to be grounded in the grace of God in Christ. It was only after the Lord revealed himself to Isaiah, giving him the grace to confess and be forgiven, that he could say, “Here I am! Send me,” and be sent into the most difficult of circumstances. When our hearts are captivated by our cultural circumstances, we tend to retreat into protectionism, but when our hearts are captive to the grace of God, we will have a heart for our neighbor and the nations.