An UpWord Glance

Mercy Triumphs!

As we approach Great Lent, here is an important clarification: An exact keeping of the fast, attending all the extra services, and reading all the Biblical readings each day will not, in and of themselves, justify us before God. These things are all there for our good but not for our justification. If we are doing these things to be justified before God, then our role model is the Pharisee who kept the letter of the law. Legalism will lead to judgementalism as we compare ourselves to others like the Pharisee did. He did not leave the temple justified. It was the lowly tax collector who did.

The tax collector and the prodigal son are both our “role models” as we prepare ourselves for Great Lent. Both of those Gospel stories have wonderful spiritual applications for us. We could say that both the tax collector and the prodigal son had souls that had been ravaged to the point that they humbly came before the Lord.

They found themselves spiritually hungry, spiritually thirsty, spiritually a stranger before the Living God, spiritually naked, spiritually sick, and spiritually in a prison that seemed impossible to escape. In their humbled state, they came to the Lord for help, for a new life. In His great love and mercy, the Lord fed their souls, gave their souls drink, embraced them as family, clothed their souls, healed their souls, and brought their souls out of prison.

This is our story, each one of us. The Lord has poured out His love and His mercy on us and continues to do so. Having received such love and mercy, we are called to do likewise to everyone we encounter. Freely we have been blessed and freely we are called to be a blessing.

The disciplines of Great Lent are there to help us to become more and more like our Lord. We come humbly before Him, learning to walk and live in the great mercy and love that He has poured out on us. As we do this, we will become instruments of His love and mercy to everyone. As we do these things to others, we do them unto our Lord.

This past Sunday, we read about the separation of the sheep and the goats: Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’”

Mercy triumphs over judgment!

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