1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

“In view of God’s mercy”. The words mercy, mercies, merciful appear 360 times in the King James Version of the Bible. God’s mercy is sprinkled throughout the pages of scripture. I’d like to focus on two specific verses.

Proverbs 16:6 “By mercy and truth iniquity is purged; and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.”

Matthew 9″13 “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

We used to play a game growing up called “Mercy”. You interlaced fingers with another person and tried to bend their fingers back until they couldn’t stand it any more and cried out for mercy. It was a test of strength and wills for us young boys. Notice that it took acknowledging the pain, acknowledging the truth that you couldn’t take it anymore, before you cried out for mercy. It is the same way with asking God for mercy. We first must acknowledge our weakness, our sinfulness, our brokenness and be honest that we don’t want to or can’t take it anymore. It is only then that our cries for mercy have any meaning.

In the Matthew passage, notice that both mercy and sacrifice are ways of dealing with disobedience. In the Old Testament, sins were atoned for by sacrifices. In the New Testament, sins are atoned for by The Sacrifice, that is Jesus’ death on the Cross. Jesus says to go and learn what this means and then quotes a passage from Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” That passage is describing how the children of Israel have turned away from God and are just going through the motions of sacrifices and rituals but their hearts are far from God. Look at Hosea 7:13-14, “I long to redeem them but .. they do not cry out to me from their hearts.” God would show mercy if they would turn wholeheartedly to Him and ask, cry out to Him and trust in His mercy.

What is keeping you from receiving the mercy of God today? Is it that you are not acknowledging the broken, sinful place that you have been? Or is it that you are just going through the motions, doing what is expected, but not really crying out with all your heart to the God of the universe who is longing to show you just how merciful He is?