The Merciful & Gracious God

September 2, 2021

by Erin Bird

Years ago, I read Praise Habit, a devotional book by David Crowder, the Christian music artist. If you aren't familiar with Crowder, he is a bit quirky. You can see it in his appearance (his beard is epic!). You can hear it on many of his albums. But you especially see his quirkiness in his writing.

While David’s “quirkiness” created memorable devotionals from the Psalms, the place I most vividly recall his quirkiness in the book was the “author’s bio” at the end. (Unfortunately, I lent the book to someone and don't recall who I gave it to, so I can't go grab it off my shelf and type the bio accurately.) But what I recall is that just before the back cover was a photo of Mr. Crowder peering out a window. Under the photo, it said something like this...

"David Crowder is the pastor of music and arts at University Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, where he lives with his beautiful wife, Toni. He is also the lead singer and frontman for the band that bears his name. This is his first book. David is peering into the distance because the photographer told him to. Perhaps it makes him look smarter. Also, he is writing this in third person."

If you were to write an "author’s bio" for yourself, you might not write it quite as humorously,(maybe you would) but I do suspect you'd do at least one thing similar. You’d write briefly.

Notice, Crowder didn't write three chapters about himself. He wrote a brief paragraph. His bio is merely a snapshot of who he was when he wrote the book. And to keep his bio brief, he had to get right to the point.

Grace from the Get-Go

In Exodus 34:6-7, where God shares His “bio” with Moses, He doesn’t go on and on and on. He keeps it somewhat brief. This means God gets right to the point. However, He doesn’t start with His power, or His uniqueness, or even some deep theological concept. After stating His name, God starts His bio at the get-go with the words “merciful and gracious.”

Many people have the notion that the “God of the Old Testament” is a cranky old man who tells puny little humans to get off his lawn by killing them or demanding the impossible. But that is not the heart of God! He is full of mercy and grace. Not demanding, but patient. He is Loving. He is Present. He is all-knowing. He is… merciful and gracious.

The Merciful &Amp; Gracious God • Riverwood Church

While we can see and sense God’s mercy and graciousness in the air we breathe, or the people He’s brought into our lives, or even in the fact that we are given a new day every day, we see this characteristic most vividly through the cross of Christ. Jesus, God the Son, willingly went through the hell of crucifixion to give us the heaven of forgiveness. All of us were born in sin. Yet while our sin separates us from God, our sin does not repel Him. Rather He runs to us, taking on human flesh. Why? Because He is merciful and gracious. And out of His mercy & grace, He went to the cross to pay the penalty we couldn’t pay to give us the freedom we don’t deserve.

So if you’ve been writing God’s bio in your head as “can’t love someone like me,” or “doesn’t seem to care,” or even “full of hate,” please know that God DOES love you, for He is full of mercy and grace. After all, it’s the first thing He put in His brief bio. And I hope this truth redefines your bio.

Erin Bird Lead Pastor - Riverwood Church

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