"Be Merciful As Your Heavenly Father Is Merciful" Luke 6,36 (9.12.13)
Like so much in life mercy- undeserved forbearance and acceptance- of God and others is a gift best received with gratitude.
And then shared richly with others.
If faith by way of grace is the means of our salvation, then mercy is the unpolluted air we all are allowed to breath.
It comes in all shapes and sizes, and sources- from friends, from not so friends, from families, people at work, and from complete strangers.
I go to a gas station in Southington and there's a guy there, you probably know him too, with whom I perhaps don't have much in common beyond our shared humanity, and every time I fill up, he's goes out-of-his-way-but-it-seems-normal-friendly.
He's friendly like this in a time when many folks easily cough up reasons to dislike and avoid human contact.
His friendliness is like mercy.
Mercy is the grounding aspect of all civilization- so the system doesn't short out and we all live in the dark. It's also a helpful attitude when driving or while watching the person at the payment window not reach into his pocket or her pocketbook until after considering the final total.
When Jesus was correcting the Scribes and Pharisees for their exacting legalism he said "Woe to you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites, because you tithe on mint, dill and cumin, and you omit the weightier aspects of the law- justice, mercy, and faith." Matthew 23,23.
Justice and mercy and faith are important post holes for those of us aiming to follow and worship God. Of these three by far the easiest for us humans to give is mercy.
As an individual the best I can do is sometimes give justice (that is if I know I have wronged someone), but I can't often grant justice for what someone else has done.
I also can't give or lend my faith. You need your own to get the oil for your own lamp.
But I know I can give you mercy any time I choose.
Think of it this way- what else do we have in such handy abundance? Are you short on money these days? Or love? Or on the goods and services this world offers?
But like God, both you and I are as rich as we want to be, in mercy anyway.
Who grants you mercy?
I never quite know who it will be. Sometimes folks from whom we expect the most mercy are the least likely to give it (perhaps because we can get in the habit of taking folks for granted), whereas a complete stranger acts like the God of all consolation and the Father of all mercies himself.
At one point Jesus calms his disciples worried about a healing done by some faithful person they didn't know: "He who is not against us is for us." (Matthew 9,40) This tells us that other faithful people don't have to be exactly like us- and this makes for a mercy fest when we realize that we are all serving the same Jesus, and he isn't finished with any one of us.
But then I think of the Puritan Roger Williams who was forced to start a colony in the wilds of Rhode Island (which he named Providence) because he didn't quite providently fit in to either the Massachussetts Bay or Salem Colony.
To whom do you grant mercy?
Sometimes we give some folks mercy because we like them, and none to others because we don't especially. Imagine if Jesus only granted mercy to people he liked.
Who could ever stand in his presence?
Do you give mercy only to handsome and pretty people? How about to people who talk and think differently? How about obese people, or people with different cultures and backgrounds and values?
If not, why not?
It's not like the living font of Jesus' mercy is running dry, or is measurable.
But, Jesus does know the measure of our mercy, and it's quite a thing to realize that our measure of mercy will be the measure which he and others will use for each us (Matthew 7,1-2).
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...