Have Mercy!

God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him"—Acts 17:30 (NLT)

Have you ever been given a second chance? Chances are you’ve been given a lot more than a second chance. Your parents, friends, teachers, employers, spouse, children, and even law enforcement may have been merciful in giving you second and third chances, withholding consequences you deserved.

Confession time: I’ve been graciously let off with a warning more than a few times for my Miami-bred led foot. But well beyond any measure of mercy I’ve received from traffic cops, the Lord has given exceedingly more!

In today’s verse, we find the apostle Paul preaching in Athens before a council of wise, pious Athenians. He says to them, “I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about” (Acts 17:22–23 NLT). 

He proceeds to explain to them who the Lord God is—the One true God, Creator, Sustainer, and King. He shares God’s divine mercy and forbearance, saying, “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him.” 

You see, these men were ignorant, not knowing about Yahweh. They had never actually been told of Him. But our Lord didn’t just see idol worshippers. He saw people who wanted to worship Him . . . they just didn’t know His name. So, He sent His ambassador to make His name known and to bring His grace to these men.

In the Old Testament Book of Jonah, we’re told the Lord pitied the Ninevites because of their ignorance of Him and His ways, so God sent Jonah to preach repentance. Likewise, in today’s passage, God sends Paul to Athens to preach repentance and share the grace that comes through Christ Jesus to those who know His name. 

2 Peter 3:9 (NLT) tells us, “The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 

Did you hear that, Christ-follower? He desires that ALL would come to repentance. That’s our cue! Like Jonah and Paul, you and I have been sent to preach repentance, to make His name known to the ends of the earth, to everyone. Let’s take up the call today!

DIG: Read Jonah 4, Acts 17, and 2 Corinthians 5:11–21.

DISCOVER: Did the Lord send someone to share His grace with you? Has He sent you to preach to someone who doesn’t yet know Him? How have you responded to this call? What barriers have kept you from responding?

DISPLAY: God has sent us to all people, even those with whom we don’t get along with, or those with whom we disagree. Think about one person you consider difficult, and pray about how the Lord can use you in his or her life. Ask God to bring about opportunities this Christmas season for you to minister and share the gospel with this person, just as Paul did in Athens. 

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.