Goodness and Mercy…Today and Every Day
SEPTEMBER 30, 2020
I love Psalm 23.
We need both heart and head. Feelings matter and so do facts.
When you can’t sleep at night, read Psalm 23, and don’t analyze it. Listen to the Shepherd who says to you, “Go to sleep. I’ll stay up the rest of the night and watch over you.”
When you’ve really messed up, read Psalm 23. Listen to the Shepherd who is merciful to sinners.
When you’re scared, read Psalm 23. Listen to the Shepherd who is your protector and says to you, “I have your back, so chill out.”
That was the heart. Now to the head. Three facts (that will touch your heart) from Psalm 23:6, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Goodness and mercy go together.
One doesn’t work without the other.
Goodness hugs you and mercy forgives you…all the days of your life.
The most destructive truth a Christian can believe is that prodigals never return to the far country.
Of course they—we—do.
The most important truth a Christian can miss is that God kills an unlimited number of fatted calves, stages an unlimited number of parties, and has an unlimited supply of polished rings and new coats.
Or as my pastor friend, Jerry Parries, puts it, “You will run out of sin before God runs out of grace.”
Before you get started, I’m not encouraging sin. I’m really not. I’m encouraging holiness and showing you the only way you can get there.
I’ve been around a long time and, with you, I have a desire to please God and to be better than I am. The difference between you and me is that I’ve tried everything you’ve tried—repeatedly—and nothing works except for Psalm 23:6.
Thank God, goodness and mercy keep following me around…and never leave.
Goodness and mercy sometimes don’t feel like it.
Mercy is sometimes a “severe mercy.” And goodness is always goodness for you…even if it doesn’t feel like it.
A missionary friend once asked me to pray for his desperately sick son. I prayed and asked others to pray. My friend eventually called me and, in tears, said, “God is so good. My son is well.” Then after a long pause, he added, “If my son had died, God would still be good, but it just would have taken me longer to say it.”
The hardest thing about being a Christian is trusting God in the dark. We wouldn’t even be able to trust God if it weren’t for the supernatural work of God’s Spirit first.
You may be in a very dark place right now. Even when you don’t feel it, goodness and mercy are following you all your days.
Goodness and mercy are God’s remedy for paranoia and fear.
Goodness and mercy make a Christian dangerous…and at peace.
The factual foundation of Psalm 23:6 is Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
In the Greek, “all things” means “all things,” everything without exception.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with a bit of everyday paranoia. At church when more than three people are talking together, I’m fairly certain that they’re talking about me…and they aren’t saying anything nice. I know, I know…but sometimes it’s true.
Not only that, I’ve taught seminary students that if they don’t have at least a degree of paranoia, they simply won’t survive the pastorate.
This kind of paranoia, though, can be a sin and shows an amazing lack of trust in God.
When Jonathan Edwards refused to attack his critics, it wasn’t because he didn’t want justice or redress of grievances. It was because he knew that he worshipped a God of justice and God would do a more thorough job than he would. (It’s the “heaping burning coals on their heads” in Romans 12:20.) So he decided to trust God and leave it in his hands.
With all of that being said, if you’re a Christian, you don’t have to look over your shoulder to see who is gaining on you. Goodness and mercy are gaining on you. So relax and rest. You’re free to focus on something else.
Have you ever looked in your car’s rearview mirror to discover a police car behind you? I don’t know about you, but even if I’m driving the speed limit and I know that I’m not doing anything wrong, I automatically start to feel guilty and condemned.
You are followed not by guilt and condemnation, but by the twin angels of God’s goodness and mercy.
Goodness and mercy are your protectors…and they follow you all the days of your life.