...not sacrifice
Matthew 12:6-8 But I say to you, One greater than the temple is here. 7 But if you had known what this is, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice," you would not have condemned the guiltless. (Hosea 6:6 ) 8 For the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.
I was watching the news the other day and there was this young girl whose dad had been murdered and the reporter asked her what she was hoping for. She said she needed the murderer to be given the death penalty and even that wasn't good enough for her revenge. This wasn't the first time I've noticed this. On those 48 Hours Murder-She-Wrote type shows where they explore murderous crimes, the families of the victims almost invariably have a deep seated bitterness and unwholesome anger which they express with tears and gritted teeth.
What good does that do? Not one slender whit, which happens to be much smaller than a splinter, by the way.

Mercy and forgiveness is valued by God much greater than sacrifice is. If the Hebrews had learned this... the Jews had learned this, then they would never have turned from Jesus. Therefore, how can we be different? Mercy is that thing that God gave us while we were still sinners. Forgiveness is what He gave us as He watched His Son go to the cross. According to the world, that is impossible. I look around and see so much hate and so much unforgiveness and bitterness. What is so sad is that most people cannot see unforgiveness for the cancer it is. How much energy is wasted by harboring hatred and unforgiveness. It does not mean that we have to fraternize with those who have hurt us, nor do we have to allow them the opportunity to do it to us again. Jesus said to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).
How do we do that?

First be willing to let go of the hurt. If we keep rolling that hurt around in mind, nurturing the anger, nursing the hurt, reveling in the injustice of it all... we are merely playing into Satan's hands and opening our armor for the fiery dart of bitterness. Make no mistake, we can hide our feelings from friends and loved ones, but we cannot hide them from Satan. He knows our weakness and exploits it to the hilt of that dart. There is the sting. Not the hurt from the betrayal or the hurtful words or the lack of support. Examine that and see if it is really as bad as it feels. Sometimes, we blow things out of proportion and add importance to nit-picky things. Oh, come on, you can think of at least one time when you did that. I can think of a dozen. I am not belittling that really huge thing like infidelity. Been there, too. That kind of anger takes several years to work through. But, oh how great freedom felt when I finally let that last bit of anger go.

Second, decide to give mercy and to forgive. It absolutely is a decision. Just like deciding to lose weight or quit smoking or deciding on a worship lifestyle instead of a worldly lifestyle.

Third, understand it will take lots of time. We have the Holy Spirit inside us and we have the mind of Christ, but we are not God. It takes a lot longer for us because we've got so much more to influence us. The world, our friends and acquaintances who "egg" us on.

Fourth, set the thoughts of anger aside. Paul said to get angry but do not sin. That kind of anger is over some injustice. Nothing hurts a child of God that is a just hurt. God does not hurt us. He may discipline us and chastise us for our unruly behavior, but He will never harm us or hurt us. It is our pride that gets hurt so often, and when it is bruised, it is painful. So setting aside the thoughts also includes setting aside pride. It only gets in the way of forgiveness and sets a flame to anger. God does not like it when someone messes with His kid. His vengence is so much wiser and so much better than ours ever could be. The question here is how can we expect mercy and forgiveness from God when we harbor unforgiveness toward a brother or sister in Christ?

It is commanded that we forgive our brothers and sisters in Christ anything. That hard verse comes to mind. Forgive or your Father in Heaven will not forgive you. But a much better one expresses God's heart.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and in no way be judged. Do not condemn, and in no way you will be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and good measure will be given to you, pressed down and shaken together, and running over, they will give into your bosom. For the same measure which you measure, it will be measured back to you.

If that isn't "What goes around comes around," I don't know what is.

“But what about unbelievers?” Good, no excellent question. Ever notice how Jesus so often answered a question with a question? Can a believer nurture anger and bitterness toward someone not a believer and still be given the blessings of God, or even have room in the heart for God?

This is a repeat from Live as if... I am finding it too difficult to come up with fresh stuff AND move AND handle the blog at Picayune Chamber AND do a newsletter AND do a weekly E-zine AND do a weekly Update. I've got things that need doing and I am so appreciative of the three people who come here for being so patient while I get some things done. AMEN.
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