How often have you thought today: "Jesus really, truly, and deeply loves me! Little ole, human me!"
Have you recently thought about the depth and breadth of mercy that Jesus poured over us dirty, filthy sinners by loving us so much He went to the cross? He loved us first, even the stubborn ones who hang on to the mistaken belief that trusting God is like facing a raging grizzly -- a life full of unpredictable danger and strife.
That is exactly what life is like without God's mercy and grace.
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.
We like to watch a show called Forensic Files. The other day I was very surprised that a fellow who had killed a woman's daughter was spared the death sentence because the mother had pleaded for his life. She said that as long as there was life there was hope for him to repent. That kind of mercy is rare between and among humans.
Often times the victim's family cry out for vengeance not mercy.
What about that sacrifice part?
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, if the Jews had learned this, then they
would never have turned away from Jesus. They never understood that
Jesus, a completely sinless person, had to take all the sin of the world
upon Himself so that we humans could be free of sin. Well, at least those humans that believe Him. Jesus said from the
cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!”
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 worldly thinking, 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?
1. Be willing to let go of the hurt. If we keep rolling that hurt
around in our minds, 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. It is not the hurt from the betrayal or
the hurtful words or the lack of support which deeply hurts. Of course
it does. But time does heal wounds from the outside. Those
self-inflicted wounds of anger kept alive, and bitterness which we keep
open and bleeding by continuous poking and prodding turn to stinging
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.
2. 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
3. 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, sad to
say, "egg" us on.
4. Set the thoughts of anger aside. Paul said
to get angry but do not sin. That kind of anger is over some injustice.
God does not hurt us. Nothing hurts a child of God that is a just hurt.
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 gives fuel to the flame to anger. God does not like it
when someone messes with His kid. His vengeance 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?
5. Obey God’s command. 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. However, giving mercy truly expresses God's
heart. Doing that we begin to truly look like Him.
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. Not that karma
stuff, but truly as we pour out blessings on others, God pours more and
more blessings on us. We cannot out give God.
“But what about
unbelievers?” Good, no, excellent question. Have you ever noticed how
Jesus so often answered a question with a question?
Can a believer nurture anger and bitterness toward someone not a believer and still have room in his heart for God? How does that draw more lost to God?