Mercy.... why does it matter?

If you're anything like me when you hear the word mercy you go to the good ol' Christianease definition of: "Not getting what you deserve." We understand that to be the penalty of sin (death and God's wrath). While that is a 100% accurate definition, without personalizing the idea it's just that: a concept that we can kind of imagine if we dare think of the Bema seat judgement (and hopefully not the White Throne judgement for the unsaved).

What would it mean to you to see yourself receiving mercy, feel yourself receiving mercy and hear yourself being forgiven? Mercy is more than just being on the receiving end, the Bible teaches us that we are also to be merciful. What does it mean practically to be merciful to someone? Jesus tells us that if we don't give mercy from the heart, it doesn't count.

Matthew 18:23-35 tells the story of mercy like this (NIV, courtesy of biblehub.com):

23“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold h was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. i He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

29“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’

30“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.

Forgive from your heart? That means you have to genuinely mean it. You say it, you feel it and you do it. So how exactly can we be merciful? It's so very important that according to Jesus, if we aren't merciful, the Father won't be merciful to us!

Before you we jump off the "I got this" cliff, it's important to remember that the mercy the Lord requires is not something we can generate within ourselves, it's a work of the Holy Spirit through our willingness and surrender. But we must understand it, be willing to be merciful and surrender to the Holy Spirit rendering mercy in and through us.

In the words of Jesus: "If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent." Matthew 12:7 (NIV biblehub.com) Jesus is quoting Hosea 6:6 "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings."

So how can we understand mercy and be willing to be merciful through the power of the Holy Spirit? Good news Jesus tells us in the earlier passage: remember what you've been forgiven of (what mercy God has shown you) when you are tempted to withhold mercy. The real issue of withholding mercy is that we somehow think we are better than "that guy" or "that gal". When we refuse to be merciful, we are being prideful and are putting merit in who we are, and what we have or haven't done, rather than in what Jesus did for us. What does Proverbs remind us about pride? That's right, it comes before a fall....Proverbs 16:18

Mercy is so important to the Lord because He IS merciful. His mercy is abundant in, through, over and around our lives. He wants us to live in that mercy and rest in the completed work of Jesus. When we lack mercy for others, not only do we show contempt for what He has done for us, but we set ourselves up for self-reliance and pride: the very thing that got us into this mess of sin. "Eat the fruit and you'll become like God, knowing good and evil" Paraphrase from Genesis 3:5. Just one big problem: we aren't God. We don't have His might, wisdom, perfection, love, power, provision, insight, knowledge, holiness (the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on................). Instead, in our attempt to be "like" God, we got an appetite for evil and self-destruction as well as a propensity to reject God's goodness and provision in our lives. Gross.

Read Psalm 23, Psalm 26, Psalm 27, Psalm 84, as examples, through this new lens of God's design for mercy, desire to give mercy and desire for us to be merciful. What you'll see is a shepherd boy that just wants to rest in God the way it was before we got "woke" by eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.

How would your life be different today if you truly rested in the mercy and grace of God? How much more willing would you be to be merciful if you were honest with yourself about yourself, and not compared to others? How is the Holy Spirit leading you to be more merciful? With whom is He asking you to show mercy? What is holding you back from being merciful?

Father, we love you. Thank you for being so kind, loving, gracious and merciful to us in spite of our best efforts to be the 'god' of our own lives. We love that before we messed up you, Jesus and the Holy Spirit already had a plan to redeem us. Help us to understand, value and rest in the mercy you have given us. Teach us to be merciful to everyone- every single broken human being that you love and created, especially those we dislike. Help us to be beacons of your light and mercy in the world, showing them a better way than the lies of the enemy. We love you and we are so grateful that you hear our prayers and promise to answer them (ask, seek, knock). Hear this prayer and through the precious gift of having your Holy Spirit dwell within us, possible by the blood of the Lamb of God, change us and make us like you, the way you originally intended it to be!

We love you! We ask this in the name of the one who paid it all, Jesus.

AMEN!


Now go show the world The Way!

~tiana

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