Be the Good - Part 2
The story is told of a politician who, after receiving the proofs of a portrait of himself, was very angry with the photographer. He stormed back into the photographer’s studio and shouted, “This picture does not do me justice!” To which the photographer replied, “Sir, with a face like yours, you don’t need justice, you need mercy!”
We all need mercy! Mercy has been defined as “an act of kindness, compassion or favor; something that gives evidence of divine favor and blessing.” While we would all admit that we need mercy, at times we fail to extend mercy to others. But Jesus calls us to understand the importance of being merciful toward others when he said in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” If we expect to receive the mercy from God we so desperately need, we must ourselves be merciful. So, how can we work toward being merciful?
We need to remind ourselves of God’s mercy toward us.
God gave his One and only Son for us. We don’t deserve that. We deserve eternal punishment. But God loves us so much that, even though we are sinners, he allowed his Son to receive the punishment we deserve.
We need to remind ourselves of how much God’s mercy means to us.
Because of God’s mercy, we can live for eternity with him in heaven. Because of God’s mercy, death’s dominion over us can be destroyed. Because of God’s mercy, we can be a part of God’s family.
We need to remember that everyone has a story.
We need to take time to listen. We need to show empathy. We need to love the way God loves. This takes loving counterculturally. This takes putting others first and removing the selfish tendencies that plague us. It takes us looking beyond the sins of others and seeing them as one who has been created in the image of God. But don’t misunderstand me. Looking beyond the sins of others is not accepting their behavior. Looking beyond is simply removing that barrier that often keeps us from seeing others as created in the image of God.
Jesus talks very plainly about the love and mercy that we are to show toward others. This is so countercultural, but our love and mercy for others is our response to God's love and mercy toward us. There’s an interesting connection between love and mercy that Jesus makes in his teaching in Luke 6. “If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful" (Luke 6:32-36). Jesus connects loving even our enemies with being merciful as God is merciful.
But so often we fail to extend mercy to others. When we do this, we create for ourselves a prison that holds us hostage and creates emotional and relational issues that are difficult to overcome. Warren Wiersbe said, "The most miserable prison in the world is the prison we make for ourselves when we fail to show mercy." God has shown mercy to us, and we ought to show mercy to others. Wiersbe also noted, "When a Christian shows mercy, he experiences liberation." Extending mercy to others frees us from the bondage of self-centeredness. The shackles are removed, the bonds are broken, and we are able to see people through the lens of God's eyes.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful…” When we are people with merciful hearts, God continually extends his mercy to us…and what a blessing that truly is. So, let’s Be the Good and Be Merciful!