This week in class we will study mercy as the beginning of a class on things all believers should know, understand and practice. Before we dive in on Sunday for this weeks weekly study I want to take a moment to look at the life of Paul, a man definitely shown mercy. Before we get to the man we know today who wrote half of our New Testament in the form of letters to the early churches and probably many more not recorded or discovered we have to go back to Saul. Saul is first seen in the New Testament as a a Pharisee. But beyond being a Pharisee, he was also a persecutor of the early church. We see him early on at stoning of Stephen. While the Scriptures do not say that he participated in the stoning, we do know he approved (Acts 8:1-2). More than approved, the original language suggests that he delighted or found pleasure in the killing of a Christian. Saul did not like the church nor its members. Even in Acts 9 when we witness Saul’s conversion we first are shown a man deliberately seeking to attack the church in Damascus and arrest its members (perhaps even murder if necessary in his eyes). Saul was a bad man.
However, as we will discuss in class, God is a God of mercy. Mercy founded in love and that is inexhaustible. And God loved Saul and God wanted a relationship with Saul. God shows mercy on Saul by bringing him what he needed, a relationship with Christ. He shows mercy to a man who claims himself to be the worst of sinners (1 Timothy 1:16). In showing mercy to Saul/Paul, God is able to use him as an example to the world that all can believe in and have relationship with God. And in allowing God to show him mercy, Paul was able to serve God greatly by being the tool to bring the gospel to the Gentile world.
Mercy is a word we say a lot as Christians. We sing about, pray for it, read it in the Bible. But it a whole lot more than just a word and this little look into the life of Paul is just a snippet of what mercy is. Join us Sunday for our discussion and grow as a believer.