Inside: mercy and grace
Let’s take a trip down memory lane, okay? Remember when you were a kid and you got into some trouble? Do you remember what your punishment was?
Punishment in the Wilson household usually consisted of standing in the corner for a while or going out and getting your own switch. But, not just any switch, it had to be just right.
Imagine it: Kid Cassie is doing something stupid and gets into trouble. What does her Pops do? He sends her out into the yard to get a switch. Kid Cassie automatically turns the waterworks on, but goes out to find one anyway.
Kid Cassie picks a switch and takes it back to her dad, still crying her eyes out. Pops inspects it and says, “No. I said a switch, not a twig. Go get another one.” Kid Cassie obeys, not wanting to make anything worse, and tries to find a new switch. With snot pouring from her nose from crying, she picks what she thinks is an acceptable switch and takes it back to her dad.
Only, it’s still not right.
“I said a switch, not a club! Go get another one!” And back she goes, until she finds one that her dad finally approves of.
The purpose of Punishment
Did he ever actually use it? No, he didn’t. He just let her walk back and forth across the yard a couple of times to think about what she did.
Did she deserve the switch? Uh, probably, not even gonna lie.
I know, I know. You’re wondering why I’m talking about this, right?
Because I’ve been thinking about punishment, mercy, and grace. That’s why.
Lately, I’ve been reading in Genesis 4 about Cain and Abel. The point of me reading about the duo was to learn more about Abel’s faith. But, it’s Cain that I’ve been thinking about.
If you’re a bible reader, you know the story. Cain and Abel both decided to make an offering to God. Abel, being the shepherd, picked the best of his flock to offer to God. Cain wasn’t a shepherd, but he farmed the land. I don’t really know what it was that Cain offered to God, but it was something from the ground. Weeds? Moldy fruit? Who knows?We don't deserve grace or mercy, but He freely gives it anyway. Click To Tweet
As we know, God approved of Abel’s offering, but He did not approve of Cain’s. So, what does Cain do? He gets jealous of Abel. And it wasn’t long before Cain’s jealousy led him to off his brother.
When punishment is replaced with mercy
We all know that murder is wrong. That’s why it’s listed as one of the 10 Commandments. You know, Exodus 20:13, thou shalt not kill?
So, it only makes sense that Cain is punished for it, right? But, instead of death, God makes him a wanderer and puts a mark upon him.
Let’s take a look at what the scriptures have to say, shall we?
And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. Genesis 4:13-15
Basically, Cain accepts his punishment, but kind of complains about it. He knew that being a vagabond would probably lead to him being murdered by someone else. So, instead, God sets a mark upon Cain. Who knows what that mark actually looked like. Maybe it was a sign that hung around his neck that said, “Do not kill this man. Love, God“.
But, whatever it was, everyone knew not to bother Cain.
Two Things: Mercy and Grace
Do you see what I see, reader?
That mark? Sure, it was part of Cain’s punishment. But, it was also mercy from God.
Think about it.
Just like my dad made me go out a ton of times to find the perfect switch that he wasn’t going to actually use, Cain’s mark kept him from a greater punishment– death.
While Cain is over there agonizing about being murdered by others, God did something to protect him.
Did he have to do that? No, He didn’t. But, He did because He is a merciful God.
Wanna know just how merciful God is to us?
So merciful that He’s extended grace through Jesus Christ.
Yep, He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for our sins, too.
You know, the ones we absolutely deserved the punishment for, but through repentance and believing on Christ, we’re saved from?
We don’t deserve mercy or grace, but He freely gives it anyway. All it takes is a little repentance and believing that Christ has set you free. (And if you haven’t asked for forgiveness yet, what are you waiting for? Now is as good a time as any!)
How mind-blowing is that, y’all?
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