Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Eating into your capital?

It's one of the fears that older folks have as they see their careful preparations for retirement coming under pressure from current financial crises. Their carefully acquired bank balance is beginning to dwindle.

It's one of the fears that some Christians have too. The idea that God's new start or new birth sets them up with a supply of 'capital' which every failure eats into. This is why Jeremiah's discovery is so encouraging; This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” Lam 3:21-24

He has seen God's supply of patience apparently exhausted and the judgements are falling on Jerusalem. All the 'capital' promises seem to have run their course and the nation is bankrupt. The 'everlasting' promises of the Temple, the Priesthood and the Davidic dynasty seem to be 'spent' but in the midst of his overwhelming sorrow Jeremiah 'recalls' something to mind and it brings him hope; it is only because of the Lord's mercies that he has survived at all.

'Mercies' is chesed. It is a word translators sometimes struggle with. It can mean something like 'covenant loyalty' or 'steadfast love' or 'loving kindness'. This was the kind of 'kindness' that David wanted to show to Mephibosheth; Then the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, to whom I may show the kindness of God?” 2 Sam 9:3 That 'covenant love' guaranteed Mephibosheth a place at the king's table for this rest of his life.

Jeremiah discovered something else about God's 'mercies' or 'compassions'; they come fresh every morning. God's covenant mercy is not a fixed fund of mercy that is eaten away by our need; it is replenished 'every morning'. How can we 'eat into our capital' if God keeps 'topping it up'? It is as though every morning he re-sets all the dials. Just think of it, an inexhaustible supply of covenant mercy!

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2

If we are willing to confess our sins and acknowledge our need of God's mercy we may come daily to breakfast with the king with confidence that all his supply has today's date; he that he will gladly give us 'our daily bread'.

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