December 14th: The Mercy He Promises

I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circum- cised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.

ROMANS 15:8–9

God’s gifts are precious beyond words, and we will sing of them forever. But the most precious gifts you can think of are not ends in themselves. They all lead to God himself. Ultimately, that is what all his gifts are for.

Take forgiveness, for example. When Christ became our servant as a ransom, he took away the curse of the law and the threat of punishment for all who believe. But to what end? That we might enjoy sin with impunity? No. That we might enjoy God for eternity! Forgiveness is precious because it brings us home to God.

Why does anyone want to be forgiven? If the answer is just for psychological relief, or just for escape from hell, or just to have more physical pleasures, then God is not honored.

Romans 15:9 says that the aim of Christ’s serving us is that the Gentiles “glorify God” for his mercy. But if we exploit God’s mercy as a ticket to enjoy sin—or even just to enjoy innocent things—God gets no glory from that. God gets glory for showing mercy when his mercy frees us to see him as the best gift of his mercy—as the most enjoyable person in the universe.

So it is good for us that Christ came on behalf of the truth of God, because the essence of the mercy he promised was himself.

It is good for us that Christ came on behalf of the truth of God, because his coming this way shows that God is true first and foremost to himself; and he confirms the promises of God, and that the promises are promises of mercy; and he shows that the essence of the mercy he promised is himself.

This is the meaning of his coming. This is the meaning of Christmas. Oh, that God would waken your heart to your deep need for mercy as a sinner! And then ravish your heart with a great Savior, Jesus Christ. And then release your tongue to praise him and your hands to make his mercy shine in yours.