As part of my desire to chronicle my study of the Word, I am also deeply convicted to start taking down notes every time I listen to worship services then meditate on the message afterwards by internalizing them in writings. In reality, I am not the pen-and-paper-journaling type of person so blogging really is my best chance to keep a memoir of what I learned from Sunday messages. With God’s help, I hope to keep this up.
Disclaimer: What I write may not be an accurate narration or representation of the preaching of our pastors and the church I attend. Rather it is how I processed the message and relate to my own personal experiences and learnings.
Currently, our church is on a series on The Beatitudes. We were on our fifth week last Sunday which means our topic was about mercy.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Matthew 5:7 ESV
Jesus further taught about mercy on a passage where His disciples were questioned by the Pharisees, attacking also Jesus’ character, when He was seen eating with sinners. In response, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not extending mercy to those who they think to be notorious sinners.
And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:10-13 ESV
So far in my life, I have not known someone who exemplifies mercy other than God. We can read in the Bible a lot about God being so merciful. I think the only people who question God’s character of being merciful are those that are not rooted in the Word. Moreover, without a doubt Jesus is God because He demonstrates mercy like the Father does.
Jesus wants us to be merciful as He and our Father in heaven is merciful. As a follower of Christ, we often hear that we cannot give what we do not have. Therefore, if we do not genuinely receive God’s mercy in our lives, then it will be impossible for us to give mercy to those around us. Furthermore, mercy is a complex word that includes kindness, compassion and forgiveness.
It is the simplest application of mercy. A good example in the Bible of showing kindness is David to Mephibosheth.
And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.” And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, “Mephibosheth!” And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.”
2 Samuel 9:1, 3-3, 6-7 ESV
This tells us that real kindness is doing something good for people without discrimination even we know that they cannot repay our kindness. Just like God’s kindness and favors to us in spite of our depravity and inability to out-give Him. Actually, the acts of kindness we give to people are really God’s, we are just a vessel.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, the word compassion is mentioned. It is the ability to sympathize with other people’s suffering not only through feelings but by going our way to help. The priest and the levite were regarded as holy people but the thought that it would make them unclean if they went near the man superceeded their conscience to help.
Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Luke 10:30-37 ESV
Jesus with all His authority commands us to show compassion. If God commands, He equips and empowers.
This can be the most challenging form of showing mercy and probably one of those where we need God’s transformational power the most. It is always helpful that the parable of the unforgiving servant teaches us how the Lord forgives and treats unforgiveness of His people.
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Matthew 18:23-35 ESV
We must first acknowledge that we are the first recipients of forgiveness and we are not different than those who hurt us. We do not deserve forgiveness but God chose to forgive and reconcile us to Him. Therefore, forgiveness is a choice more than a feeling.
With all these teachings, I admit that I am still learning to demonstrate kindness, compassion and forgiveness to others. It is a pretty steep hill to climb. If people see me not being kind, compassionate and forgiving, it is my sinful nature which I succumb to. I am not proud of it and I know that I need to change, be more intentional in my actions since God’s grace abounds. I am stilll a work in progress. If people see a change in me then it is definitely the Lord’s doing.
As a final realization, we are blessed to show mercy not only because we will receive mercy in return but we already received it first when we placed our faith in Jesus’ salvation and make Him the Lord of our lives. At times we cannot show mercy, the grace of God will carry us through.
Soli Deo Gloria!