Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Are we a church of mercy?

‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ (Matthew 18:32-33)

After reading through Matthew 18, the theme of mercy seemed to slap me in the face (yes, I love the irony of that sentence). I've already touched on Jesus' repetitive admonition to the Pharisees that He desires mercy, not sacrifice, and I think it is a concept worth reviewing. Many times, I find that the church, myself included, is too quick to judge and condemn in the proud name of justice. We have certain people in our minds that could never be right or righteous and we somehow dismiss mercy in the name of our Lord. How sad! God has been so rich in mercy toward us (Ephesians 2:4-5), and here we are like this wicked servant, strangling our fellow servant who, in our minds, "owes us" a much smaller debt.

We have been the recipients of grace. Now don't just skim over that sentence. We as Christians get used to hearing certains phrases and words and, after a while, they lose their impact and significance. And sometimes we don't really understand their weight in the first place. Do you understand the grace of Jesus Christ? He has given you everything; his very life. There is great power behind grace. Jesus lives in you (Galatians 2:20). When we understand our complete inability without Jesus Christ, and we understand the doctrine of grace, there is no room for condemnation or judgment in our life. It is the natural overflow of a redeemed life, when we have been forgiven such a great debt, that we love.  Is there mercy in your life toward the outcast, stranger, and sinner? Do you care about the suffering? Without God, these things are impossible, but with God's power, through faith, his very heart of mercy beats inside of you. May we be a church of mercy to the least of these.

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank BOTTLED water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me DEPORTED. I needed clothes, but you needed MORE clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the BEHAVIORS that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I DESERVED." -Richard Stearns

"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47

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