A Source of Comfort
James Smith, 1865
"Be merciful — just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:36
Jesus revealed Jehovah as a father. He constantly kept this idea before the minds of his disciples. He turned their thoughts from his greatness — to his goodness. He taught them to realize that he was their Father. They were . . .
to pray to him as such;
to trust in him as such;
to love him as such;
to obey him as such.
He was here setting forth his moral excellencies for their imitation. He commands them to be merciful — as their Father also is merciful. There is something very precious in this representation of the Most High God. He is our Father. As such, he is not only great, glorious, omnipotent, and just — but he is merciful. He is naturally, infinitely, eternally merciful. He is merciful to all — but more especially to his children. Yes, he delights to manifest his mercy to them. He is merciful this day, and he will be merciful to us through all our future days.
Is our Father merciful? Then he will sympathize with us. Our sufferings will affect him. They will touch his heart. They will awaken his tenderest sympathies. We shall not suffer alone. He will come to us. He will sustain us. He will administer to our necessities. He will even make our bed in our sickness. His sympathy will effectually benefit us. Others may pity — he will relieve. Others may speak — he will apply. Others may wish us well — he will really do us good. Of us it shall by-and-bye be said, as it was of Israel of old, "In all their afflictions — he was afflicted."
Is our Father merciful? Then he will listen to us. Every sigh, every groan, every broken prayer — shall enter into his ears! He will listen to the beating of the contrite heart — to the heaving of the troubled bosom — to the sobs of the distressed spirit. He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer. He will turn away from the strains of the seraphim, from the hallelujahs of all the celestial host — to listen to the moanings of his Ephraim, to the cries of his tempted, depressed, and afflicted children below! Beloved, he will never turn a deaf ear to our prayers — as poor, imperfect, and broken though they be. He cannot, for he is merciful.
Is our Father merciful? Then he will pardon us. He will pardon not only once or twice — but every time we confess our sins with sorrow, and plead for pardon in Jesus' name. How often we have to go and confess the same sins, and seek forgiveness of the same offences. Nor dare we promise, that if he forgives us now — that we will be guilty of them no more. For corruption within us, and Satan without us, will soon lead us to commit them again. Still our merciful Father forgives us, and will continue do so. How strange was the plea of Moses when seeking pardon for the rebellious Israelites, "Let the power of my Lord be great, as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now." "As far as the east is from the west, so far will he remove our transgressions from us." Hear his own gracious announcement, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and will not remember your sins."
If our Father is merciful — then he will notice the least good thing in us. He did so in Abijah, the child of Jeroboam, as it is written, "He only of Jeroboam shall come to the grave, because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel." It may only be the desire to labor for him — without the power. The wish to be useful — without the opportunity. A little zeal for him. A little love to him. A little faith in him. A little sorrow that we have grieved him. A little kindness to some one of his people — the giving of a cup of cold water only. The speaking a word for him. Whatever good there is in us, generated by his Holy Spirit (and there is no good but what the ever blessed Spirit does produce) — he notices, approves, commends, records, and fosters!
Man may overlook it. We ourselves may think little of it. Not so our merciful Father; it is precious in his sight, and is highly esteemed by him. How different is prejudiced man! In his eyes — one fault in us, hides ten of our virtues; for one spot, he overlooks a score beauties. Oh, to resemble our ever merciful Father, in noticing and admiring what is good in his children.
If our Father is merciful — then he will accept the smallest thing from us. The child has but little to offer only some common field flower, or some simple drawing — but he brings it in love, he presents it to his father with a smile, he seems to say, "I wish it were gold, or some rich gem," and the father receives it gladly, and is pleased with it. Just so with our ever loving Father who is in Heaven. What can we bring him? What have we to present to him? It is, perhaps, only a loving wish, or a grateful acknowledgment, or a song of praise, or a poor sinful prayer. But it is what we have — and the Lord accepts it with more pleasure than he does Gabriel's services, or Michael's obedience!
He says, "My child would bring me something worthy of me, if he had it; but as he has it not — I accept the will for the deed." If there is first a willing mind, "it is accepted according to that a man has, and not according to that he has not."
If our Father is merciful — then he will allow no real evil to befall us. He can prevent it, and he will. Afflictions are not always evils. Rather, sanctified afflictions are among our choicest mercies, our most efficient teachers. David had many, sore, and long continued afflictions — but were they evils? Oh, no — they were blessings in disguise; therefore he writes, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted." And again, "I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me."
Solomon long since wrote, and providence has ever since proved the truth of the saying, "There shall no evil happen to the just." We have been tried. We have been cast down. We have been stripped. We have been disappointed. We have been painfully humbled. Our hearts have often bled — for they have been often and deeply pierced.
But has any real evil befallen us? Can we bring this charge against our most merciful Father? Shall we be able to do so in Heaven? No, never! Never!
If our Father is merciful — then he will have us love one another for his sake. He loves all his children. He pities every one of his family. He bids us to love every one of our brothers and sisters. It is his will that we should love each other. It is our happiness to love one another. We cannot be like our Father — if we do not love all his children — if we do not love them always — if we do not love them with a warm and glowing love. Oh, for more love to the Lord's people!
If God is our Father, and our Father is merciful — what a source of comfort is opened to us. We know not what awaits us. We know not what we may have to pass through. But let what will come — we shall have one to love us, and one whose love is infinite, unchangeable, and glorious. Yes, our Father's heart will be always set upon us — it will always be full of love to us, to do us good.
We shall always have one to care for us. He will care for our persons to protect them, for our graces to foster them, and for our circumstances to adapt his mercies to them. The believer can never justly say, "No one cares for me," for his God cares for him — and his care is so efficient, that he is bidden to cast all his concerns upon God, and enjoy peace, because God cares for him.
We shall always have one to provide for us. We cannot be fatherless. We cannot be neglected. Our Father knows our needs, our weakness, and our dependent condition; he is ever merciful, his mercy is ever great to wards us, and therefore our supplies are certain. This led the apostle to write so confidently to his kind-hearted Philippians and say, "My God shall supply all your needs, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
If God is our merciful Father — let us cherish the thought. It is sweet. It is pleasant. It is profitable. It must do us good. How much better to think of our mercies — than our miseries; of our merciful Father — than of our malicious foes.
If God is our merciful Father — let us improve the privilege. Let us go to God as His children. Let us ask of him — as of a father. Let us credit his word, rely on his care, rejoice in his mercy, wait at his footstool, work in his vineyard, trust in his faithfulness, and hasten home to be with him in glory everlasting forever.
If God is our merciful Father — let us honor the relationship. Let us walk with God in holy fellowship, obey God with ardent zeal, imitate God with care and caution, and endeavor to exhibit the excellencies of his moral character in our conduct and conversation. Let us be holy — for God is holy. Let us be loving — for God is love. Let us be merciful — for our Father also is merciful. Let us attend to our Savior's admonition, delivered with so much love when instructing his disciples on the mount, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."
Reader, is God your Father? Do you feel a child's love to him? Do you exercise filial confidence in him? Do you go to him for counsel, for supplies, for comfort, for all you need? Do you look upon him as merciful, and strive to imitate this excellence? Masters, are you merciful to your men? Men, are you merciful to your fellow-men? Mistresses, are you merciful to your servants? Servants, are you merciful to all about you? To be merciful you must not be unjust, or dishonest; but exercise mercy, every one toward another, consistently with the claims of kindred, and the requirements of God's holy precepts, as they bear upon the different relationships of life. Beloved, "be merciful, even as your Father who is in Heaven is merciful."