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But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

The mercy we receive and extend finds its roots in the gospel. Ephesians 2 speaks to this with clarity. With the wonderful words “But ...God,” Paul turned from diagnosing our spiritual death (vv. 1-3) to describing our new life in Christ (v. 5). We owe everything to God’s character. God’s mercy is His tenderhearted, loving compassion toward the needy. God’s grace is displayed through showing undeserved favor toward all who have sinned against Him.

Mercy means that God has forgiven us our just and due penalty. “We were dead in our transgressions,” Paul wrote. Together we have all turned aside from God and His rule. The price for this rebellion is death; it is the natural consequence of disobeying God. But God did not exact the penalty He was owed. Instead, God gave us life when we deserved death, and that is the perfect picture of mercy.

We were suffering in our sin and sorrow and were not even aware that a better alternative existed. When God came to us, we were defenseless and helpless—in fact, we were dead (v. 5). That is why “but God” is one of the sweetest phrases in all of Scripture. We were lost, but God sought us. We were dead, but God brought us back to life. We were desperate, but God richly blessed us. When we realize the depth of what God has done for us, we will become determined to share those blessings with others.

  • How does God’s plan for fallen human nature display His mercy?
  • What kind of suffering are people you know walking through right now? How can you model the mercy of God before them?
  • Praise God for stepping in when you were unable to help yourself.