In Victor Hugo’s novel, Les Miserables, peasant Jean Valjean served 19 years imprisonment due to stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family. Upon release, angry and bitter, he had no home and slept on the streets. A Catholic Bishop gave him shelter one night but Valjean ran off with silver utensils that belonged to the church. Later, policemen captured Valjean and brought him to the Bishop with hopes of locking him up again. Pretending he gave the silverware to Valjean, the godly man offered Valjean matching candlesticks as well.
Hesitantly, the officials accepted this explanation and the Bishop told Valjean that his life has been spared for God’s use. Also, he urged the thief to use the money to make an honest man of himself. Outrageous but true, merciful kindness drops into our lives unexpectedly and we see it scattered all over the place throughout the Bible. In the very beginning, God clothed Adam and Eve with animal skins that covered and atoned their sin.
May I share a funny story concerning mercy? Working night-rounds at a local hospital, my husband napped the next day. Our sons Elijah and Luke (three 1/2 and two 1/2-years), bounded into the bedroom yelling, “Guess what Daddy! We filled your truck with gas!” Half asleep, Dad got another medical call, jumped in his truck, drove hurriedly away but the vehicle stalled. Suddenly, he realized what the boys did. They had filled his ‘gas tank’ with water using the outdoor hose. Of course, this wouldn’t be considered malice. Heck, one can’t even punish for that! The children were proud to ‘help’ their daddy. I’m still laughing.
Seriously, can we out-sin the grace of God? I don’t think so. How often are we forgiven and blessed? Merciful grace grants favor or kindness without regard to worth or merit of the one who receives it. Unworthy of forgiveness, our boys and Valjean embraced a second chance. Love is greater: than hate, evil, premeditated violence, wicked satanic powers; always has been, always will be. Loving mercy chases malice and overtakes.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6a NKJV).