When we confess sin to God, we receive grace and mercy. Grace is giving us something that we don’t deserve, while mercy withholds something that we do deserve.
On Monday morning, as I begin my week, I ask for grace and mercy in advance. Lots of it. I often say that I’m the number one consumer of God’s grace in the history of Christendom. I battle with self-seeking and comparing myself to others. I think lust-filled thoughts, I desire possessions that I don’t have, and I tend to turn conversations in a direction where I get to tell my story more than listen to yours.
And I am a pastor.
I wouldn’t survive through my guilt and self-condemnation if it were not for God’s grace and mercy. The author to the Hebrews (I believe the Apostle Paul) writes, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)
My translation of Hebrews 4:16 would be very simple: “God, give me what I don’t deserve, and please withhold what I do deserve. I ask forgiveness – and at the same time thank you – that in spite of my great need for grace and mercy, you always give it to me.” (OGV)
There is only one sin keeping us from receiving God’s grace and mercy – failure to ask.
God’s grace is abundant, and His mercy is free. Why don’t we ask for it more? I’ve noticed three reasons that keep us from receiving God’s grace and mercy:
- Denial. We don’t see it, and we don’t want to see it. God doesn’t ask us to change everything that needs changed at once. Seasons come when God, in grace and mercy, considers us and says, “Okay, now is the time for you to stop that.” He will bring conviction, and if we continue to ignore Him, He will allow discipline in our lives. In trials always ask, “God what are you saying to me?” I’ve observed followers instantly healed or set free when they confessed sin.
- Familiar sin.Sin is missing the mark of God’s holiness. God is God. He makes the rules – He created everything. When we follow God the fruit of obedience is love, joy, peace, patience, righteousness, gentleness, and self-control. But sin tastes so good; we need it. It becomes part of our lives, and too often, generationally, part of the family. We re-interpret the Bible to allow it, condemn those who disagree with us, and fight for acceptance of our sin.
- We smile. I’ve noticed that some smile when confronted with sin. They smile while admitting something that they have done wrong. They smile when they disobey God again. I have become suspicious of those who smile too easily. Smiles can trivialize what God takes seriously.
Back to grace and mercy. I need a lot of it. You do too. No matter how much denial, or familiarity, or smiling to acquiesce we have done, when we confess, God freely gives us what we don’t deserve and withholds what we do deserve.
Since I’m the #1 consumer of God’s grace, my plan is to spend more time at His throne praying. I will never be able to stop needing grace and mercy, but I can ask for more.