Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Earned Mercy Isn't

My teenagers were playing a friendly game of Mercy the other night. You've probably played it - you face off with someone, put your hands together, palm to palm, interlace fingers and then see who can bend the other's fingers and hand back to the point where the pain is intolerable, wrenching, squeezing, a stiff, disjointed dance for dominance that ends when someone cries out "Mercy!". And the point of the game is just that - though the dominant person has gained a position whereby he could inflict even further pain and injury to the opponent, at the cry of "mercy", mercy is indeed rendered and the tortured one's hand is released, usually with good-natured laughter and the appearance of a new challenger.

A friend's newsletter* noted that Mormon Apostle Richard G. Scott addressed the subject of mercy at the last LDS general conference (Oct. 2006). Since mercy is an essential facet of our relationship to God I was curious how it would be presented. Mercy by definition is "compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power; ... Mercy implies compassion that forbears punishing even when justice demands it."
[http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/mercy]

In short, mercy is not receiving the punishment we justly deserve. By definition mercy is both unearned and unmerited.

I pulled our Nov. 2006 Ensign to see what Elder Scott had to say, and noted the following:
If not resolved, broken laws can cause your life to be miserable and would keep you from returning to God. ...The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God (p. 42).

Wait a minute, mercy earned by continual repentance and obedience? This is a troubling thought, but I'm late for a meeting, so I'll pick this up tomorrow, hopefully. Until then, feel free to meditate on Titus 3:5 which states:

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.

*(Mormonism Researched, Mar-Apr 2007)

3 comments:

rick b said...

Graceful posted If not resolved, broken laws can cause your life to be miserable and would keep you from returning to God. ...The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God (p. 42).

If we break the laws, we can never do enough good works to solve the problem, this proves to be a problem for people who break Gods laws and only repent on their death bed, but in mormonism, their is no forgivness for people on their death beds.

So I read 1st John 1:7-9
1Jo 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1Jo 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jo 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Captain Kirk said...

Joel,

Captain Kirk (MIT-Talk screen name) here. This blog of your is an excellent idea. I like how you clearly make the point that mercy, and by extension grace, is unearnable. I can say without a doubt that the 15 years I spent as a mormon that I believed that any favor or blessing given to me by God was something that I earned. It was sort of like God was the CEO for whom I worked and the favors and blessings were the bonuses I got as part of my compensation package for doing the job and keeping the rules of mormonism. I truly am greatful that Jesus saved me from the LDS church 15 years ago and has restored a right relationship between God and me.

To think that I used to believe as taught by Elder Scott is anathema to me now. Praise God that I am free in Jesus now. Keep up the good work Joel.

JoelBG said...

Hi Capn,
Thanks for the encouragement - how cool that you've tasted true mercy and grace. It can be somewhat bittersweet in that we cannot truly appreciate the wonder of mercy until we see clearly the vastness, deepness and blackness of our own sin and how far we've fallen short of the glory of God we were made to reflect.

May you keep enjoying your freedom and mirroring grace in Jesus. Joel