Our Deeds of Mercy are Evidence of God’s Grace

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“If your heart is full of love, it will find vent; you will find or make ways enough to express your love in deeds. When a fountain abounds in water it will send forth streams.” —Jonathan Edwards

“One sin leads to another. Failure in our love to God always results in failure in our love to our Neighbor.” —A. W. Pink

One of the unique distinctions in Christianity is that it is very possible to sin in our obedience to the law. The Apostle Paul addresses this in the book of Galatians as he is confronting false teachers who have stated that the way to please God is to adhere to His law with His gospel. Paul is not saying that we should not obey—but the danger is that we can start to believe our ability to approach God is based on the merit of our obedience.

The blessing of God is not found in exacting obedience to the law, but rather through faith in Christ. The gospel does, however, produce radical obedience as we, in faith, understand the blessing of Christ and experience a transformation of heart.

As we read in 1 John 4:7-8, we love because God is love. And in loving others, we are honoring the image of God. The writer of Proverbs says, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” Love is at the very center of God’s nature. The only way we are able to love Him or others is because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

We are able to give freely to others as we realize all that we have received freely from Him. This is when we know our deeds of mercy are evidence of God’s grace in our lives. We will love others best when we know we are loved by God. In Generous Justice, Tim Keller writes, “Before you can give this neighbor-love, you need to receive it. Only if you see that you have been saved graciously by someone who owes you the opposite, will you go out into the world looking to help absolutely anyone in need. Once we receive this ultimate, radical neighbor-love through Jesus, we can start to be the neighbors that the Bible calls us to be.“

Our deeds of mercy and justice are brought about by a transforming belief in the gospel truth that Jesus perfectly fulfills what we as humans could not. Jesus received the punishment of death deserved by sinners so that sinners could gain the life deserved by Jesus. Self-sacrificial love is something we all yearn for—to see someone willing to lay down their life for another. This is the kind of love that we have in Jesus. He laid down his life for us. He passed through death for us and pulled us into union with Himself into life by His resurrection.

Those who are in Christ are called to live out this dying-to-ourselves type of love. We are called to die so that we can gain life—a life lived for the good of others. This is how we know we are in Christ. As 1 John 3:18-19 assures us, “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him.”

For reflection:

  • Approach God in prayer with a heart of humility. Do you sense that God’s heart is so open to you that he invites you to abide in Him and desires to transform you into a compassionate image of Himself? Do you know that He is committed to loving you so you can love others?
  • Take a moment to reflect on your attitude toward obedience. Do you see it as a prerequisite for you to approach God or do you see it as an outflow of the gospel transforming your heart?