GOD BE MERCIFUL TO ME, A SINNER + 1 Corinthians 15:1-10; Luke 18:9-14
The guilt we feel because of our sins, is a good thing. The shame we feel, as we consider what we have done against God and neighbor, is a good thing.
When we consider ourselves, as we stand in judgment before God and we feel guilt and shame, it is a good thing.
Before God, we are enemies of God, there is nothing good in us.
God demands perfection, holiness, goodness and there is none of that in us.
When we consider ourselves, as we stand before our neighbor, and let them speak judgment upon us, upon our lives, that we have not lived in love toward neighbor, that our thoughts and our actions have not been for the good of our neighbor and we have shame, that is a good thing.
God demands that we love our neighbor, and we do not.
When we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see, because of our sins, that is a good thing.
We must turn away from evil. We must turn away from sin. We must kill the Old Adam that is in us.
We must repent. Repentance is a good thing. Repentance is a gift from God.
Repentance is realizing our sin and turning to God for mercy. Mercy is what we pray for from God.
Mercy is when we are not punished for our failure to fear, love and trust in God above all things.
Mercy is when we are not punished, even though we should be, when we do not love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
We pray that God would pour down upon us the abundance of His mercy. Truly, God’s mercy is great and abundant.
In His mercy, we remember and faithfully trust that God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love toward us forever.
In His mercy, Almighty God does not punish us, rather, He punishes His Son because of us. Jesus suffered and paid the price for our sins, for our guilt, for our shame, when He died on the cross for the sins of the world.
Because of His death on the cross, Almighty God forgives us of those things of which our conscience is afraid of and ashamed of and feel guilty for. Repentance is returning to God, that He would forgive us and show His love to us.
In His mercy, Almighty God forgives us and gives us those good things that we are not worthy to ask for and deserve.
We pray that Almighty God would forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
When we pray these words, we desire that our Father in heaven would not look at our sins, or deny our prayer because of them, and He doesn’t. We know that we are neither worthy of the things which we pray for, nor have we deserved them, but out of His great love for us, He gives them to us.
We firmly believe that God is always more ready to hear than we to pray and more ready to give than we desire or deserve.
But we ask that He would give everything to us according to His great and abundant mercy, and He does.
We daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but temporal death and eternal punishment.
But Almighty God, out of His great love for us, shows us mercy. It is in this truth that we place our love and trust for God.
We pray that we would realize the gravity of our sins, and realize the importance of the mercy Almighty God shows us.
In realizing how serious our sins are, we realize how important the forgiveness of those sins is.
As poor miserable sinners, we are completely dependant upon the merits and works of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We are completely dependant upon what St. Paul reminds us, that is the gospel that he preached to us, which we have received, upon which we stand, and by which we are being saved.
St. Paul delivered to us, the most important thing, that which St. Paul, who considered himself the chief of sinners, had also received.
Jesus Christ died for our sins. He was buried, and on the third day He rose again from the dead, and He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then Jesus appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, He appeared to St. Paul. This is what the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God, proclaims.
This is the most important thing to St. Paul, for he considered himself to be the least of the apostles, unworthy to even be called an apostle because he persecuted the church of God. He put Christians to death for being followers of Jesus.
St. Pauls says, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace and mercy toward me was not in vain.”
This is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe. For we are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. For this Gospel, that which Christ has accomplished for us with His cross, that which St. Paul preached and taught and handed down to us, is the mercy of God. For Almighty God so loved the world that He gave His only Son unto death, suffering for the guilt and the shame of the world, that whoever fears, loves and trusts in this, would not perish but have everlasting life. This is what St. Paul received, even though He did not deserve it.
This is what the tax collector trusted in and was made right with God, he was exalted by God, he was told to depart in peace.
This is where we place our trust, and we are sent away forgiven. We are at peace. We are lifted up out of our sins. We are invited to come and be honored guests with Almighty God, at the feast of the Lord’s Supper, tasting and seeing the goodness of God toward sinners.
This is not where the Pharisee placed his fear, love and trust. The Pharisee did not see his sin. The Pharisee saw no need for Almighty God to show him mercy. The Pharisee was sent away unforgiven. Almighty God will say to the Pharisee when He comes again to judge the quick and the dead, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness, you who do not know the will of God. ”
And the will of Almighty God is this, to save sinners, that we would be delivered from sin and every evil, that when our last hour comes we would receive a blessed end taken from this vale of tears, to the right hand of God the Father in heaven. Amen.