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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Timothy 1:15–17

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (NRSV)

Reflection
Some days I think I’m really easy-going, full of love, compassion, patience, and mercy, but other times, in today’s charged environment, I struggle to tap into my hopeful, loving heart. Where are those gentle, patient, kindly emotions when I need them most? Unfortunately, this is the normal, human condition. If our patience, mercy, and unconditional love reservoir is low and flowing inconsistently, it is just a reflection of our flawed human spiritual capacity. Human patience and mercy will always fall short. Godly patience and mercy will not and, lucky for us, cannot be exhausted. Paul accepts his own flawed, sinful human condition and wants us to know how he has been rescued into hope for eternal life because of God’s boundless mercy and love.

God must weep at our part-time merciful living efforts but loves us in spite of our human limitations. Are our “good days” good enough for God? How content are we with our lapses of self-control, as long as we think we are better than others?

It saddens me deeply that we, just as in Paul’s day, live in such a divided world. Russian novelist Solzhenitsyn wrote, “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts.”

No matter our political point of view, religious practice, station in life, race, nationality, or gender, no tribe owns the label of good or bad. I don’t believe our world is divided into “good people” and “bad people”; to quote the Apostle Paul, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” How might each of us become a channel of God’s mercy in the world today?

Prayer
Holy Creator, our world feels so troubled and hurting today. Please help each of us examine our hearts to live each day with a gentler, patient, merciful heart to all peoples. Amen.

Written by Cris Ohr, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church


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