There's a wideness in God's mercy,
like the wideness of the sea;
there's a kindness in God's justice
which is more than liberty.
There is no place where earth's sorrows
are more felt than up in heav'n.
There is no place where earth's failings
have such kindly judgment giv'n.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and a promised grace made good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.
There is grace enough for thousands
of new worlds as great as this;
there is room for fresh creations
in that upper home of bliss.
For the love of God is broader
than the measures of our mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
But we make this love too narrow
by false limits of our own;
and we magnify its strictness
with a zeal God will not own.
'Tis not all we owe to Jesus;
it is something more than all:
greater good because of evil,
larger mercy through the fall.
Make our love, O God, more faithful;
let us take you at your word,
and our lives will be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.
Being granted mercy is amazing, especially when we know we are guilty and deserving of punishment. But the amazing wideness of God's mercy is easily limited. While we are grateful for that wide mercy for us and for those we care for, to extend it to others can be challenging.
To understand the wideness of God's mercy, one must consider the wideness of Christ's arms, spread out on the cross. How wide are those arms? Wide enough to encompass the world? To draw in our enemy, those we consider beyond forgiveness, beyond mercy?
If God's mercy is indeed wide, then it will draw in many we might not ever consider to be worthy. But in recognizing that amazing wide mercy, we ourselves become included in God's economy of grace. The granting of mercy is a gift and not something we can or should try to control. Not for us and certainly not for others.
Encompassing God, you extend our arms on the cross for all people. Help us, as recipients of your mercy, to proclaim that wide grace to all who are in need, for all who are lost. Give us the wisdom and grace to know that it is your mercy to give, and we are grateful to receive. Amen.