I am grateful to Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because he judged me faithful and appointed me to his service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a man of violence. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost. But for that very reason I received mercy, so that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display the utmost patience, making me an example to those who would come to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Timothy 1:12-17
A little history about Paul is helpful - and he gives a good accounting of it here: blasphemer, persecutor, and man of violence.
And yet other than Jesus himself, no one is more important to the founding of our faith. Through Paul churches came into being all the way into Europe, and so spread far and wide.
Through Paul came the grounding of our theology.
And yet he was a blasphemer, persecutor, and man of violence before that all happened.
How do we decide who deserves mercy? Who is it we look at and think they are unredeemable? I wouldn't be surprised if someone is conjuring up in your mind right now.
We all tend to believe there are some things that just aren't forgivable. We can think of the worst that someone can do and have that define them.
But through the mystery of the immortal, invisible God, mercy is available beyond our human understanding. Mercy to even those we'd never imagine.
And mercy begets mercy.
Mercy is meant to lead us to be an example of more mercy.
Who are you being called to show mercy to?
Merciful Lord, help me to be an example of your generous mercy at all times. Amen