Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy (pity), for his great love wherewith he loved us (emphasis added)
It was exciting to preach from Ephesians 2:4-10 last night and focus on God’s Mercy, especially after looking at our life apart from Christ as children of Satan the week before (Ephesians 2:1-3). The passage itself emphasizes the Grace of God with a love we could never earn (2:4), a price we could never pay (2:5), a position we could never achieve (2:6), and a Salvation we could never earn (2:7-9).
What spoke to me the most in my study however is the word mercy (ἔλεος in the Greek) that can be translated “pity” or “deep compassion.” It gives the idea of helping someone or something that could never help themselves (think the good Samaritan). In my opinion this fits well with the context of our wickedness before God, and being dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1)
As I thought about this aspect of God’s mercy an interesting thing happened…my mind was suddenly flooded with memories of my dog in Australia.
In 2010 after moving into a new rental property (had been living in an apartment) I decided it was time to get a dog. Growing up in a family that rescued strays my first thought was to find one at the local animal shelter. There were a few different dogs there but one in particular caught my eye.
“Oh you don’t want that one” the woman at the front desk told me
When I asked why not she explained this dog had been “returned to the shelter” because everyday he got over a fence in the yard, and ran around while his owners were at work. Without a moment’s hesitation I agreed to take him even after she warned me two more times of his “flight risk” 🙂
As I walked Yoda (not my name for him, but only other choice was Soda) away from the shelter he was a bit confused. But as we started to drive away it seemed to dawn on him that a cage would no longer be his home, and he started to get excited.
That night he discovered my home was filled with dog toys, tennis balls, his own food bowl, and most importantly to him…a red leash. We ended up taking the first of many dog walks, and playing with his toys for about an hour
That night as I laid down on the couch to watch TV Yoda curled up behind my legs and quickly fell asleep…in that moment I knew he wasn’t going to be a problem.
Oh there were days when he got loose (every gate or door had to be securely fastened) but he always came back. Eventually all I had to do was walk to the street corner with his red leash in my hand and Yoda would come running up! But as he got used to being an inside dog even those moments of escape didn’t bring trouble.
One Sunday afternoon I was coming home for a run and noticed a dog sitting in my front yard. My first thought was to think “oh no Yoda’s going to be really upset” but then I realized it WAS YODA! A group of teenagers watched as he jumped up and ran to me and asked if it was my dog. Evidently a gate hadn’t been shut properly and they found him patiently sitting in the front yard waiting for my return.
Yoda may have been tempted to wander but in his mind it wasn’t necessary when he had toys, food, water, dog walks, and even a bed (mine)!
The more I ponder the word “pity” in Ephesians 2:4 the more I see myself as Yoda
- Apart from Christ I am constantly rebelling
- I am dirty, smelly, and disgusting
- Nobody would want anything to do with me
- but IN CHRIST I have everything!!!!
This doesn’t mean I always understand what God does….sometimes He seems unfair. But in those moments His merciful love is what makes me sit in the front yard and wait for my Father to make things right.