May 22 - Why We Need to Be Merciful

Opening Prayer Thoughts. 
 

Praise God.
Praise God for his love and mercy to us.  Praise God that he has not and does not treat us as we deserve. Praise God that, by his grace, we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and can live today for his glory. 
 
Acknowledge sin.
Acknowledge the sin of not comprehending the magnitude of God’s mercy, and the implications of his forgiveness for our lives day by day.  Ask God to help you to see how his mercy should impact your love for, and obedience to, him.



Let's read Luke 6:36-38.
Pray for the Holy Spirit's help to receive God's Word.
 
V36. A verse that says it all!
In terms of our relationships with other people, the command of Jesus, "Be merciful, even as your Father in heaven is merciful," says it all. Man's sinful nature is so impregnated with pride and self-promotion, out of a passion to show that it is succeeding in its autonomous living, that it refuses to be truly merciful in a godly way. Yes, there are what mankind would call good people out there; people who spend their lives helping others. They are kind, generous, and self-sacrificing with their lives. But care needs to be taken when saying this because it can be so easily misunderstood; their ultimate motive is to self-promote. It is their chosen way to get to where they want to go without God. Touch their lives in the wrong place and that kindness will quickly evaporate, and the real nature will be revealed. I have met some incredibly kind, gentle people; people who have given their lives to helping others, but speak to them of their need of a Saviour and that mild, calm, affable demeanour dissipates in an instant if pressed. Yes, the response may be courteous, but the steely resolve in telling you to ‘back off’ is unmissable. 
 
Jesus here is commanding us to have the attitude our Father in heaven has. One which shows compassion to a person who has repeatedly proven that they are wholly undeserving of it. In the Old Testament, several words are translated as mercy: 'ahavah' which refers to God's enduring love for Israel; 'rachamin' comes from the root word 'womb' and speaks of the care for the unborn in that context; and 'chesed,' a beautiful word meaning loving-kindness and steadfast loyalty. These words speak of God's compassion, care, and loving-kindness for his people Israel throughout all their dealings with him, whether good or bad. This mercy is alive today. It is evident in God's dealings with those who say they love him, and yet say and do things that are contrary to that profession. God's way of dealing with us is to be our way of dealing with others. Those who have committed to us in whatever way, and yet are saying and doing things that convey something entirely different. 
 
Our tendency can be to read a verse like this, and then just move on with little thought. But these are the verses that we should stop at, and spend time over, for they speak to God's relationship with us and how that relationship should affect our relationships with others. Christianity is about understanding this type of verse. Verses like this are to be ruminated upon, mulled over, understood, comprehended, and then lived out. Too frequently Christianity, at least for those who have a reformed understanding, can rest on the attainment of knowledge and doctrine, and that is absolutely necessary, but it's just the first step. It is what that knowledge, that doctrine, produces that is important. Christ did not stop at the knowing of the plan of salvation; he lived it through at immeasurable personal cost. Being merciful will cost, but it is a cost that is incomparable with what the Father's mercy cost the Son.
 
V37. One of those great misquoted verses!
There are verses in God's Word which are misquoted daily, and this is one of them. Jesus says, 'Don't judge me,' so... It's even become a standard tattoo, indelibly marked usually on the arm or neck. It is essential, therefore, that we correctly understand what Jesus is saying. Let's begin with what he is not saying. Jesus is not teaching that there can never be a judging of someone; he teaches elsewhere that there must be judgement. John 7:24, 1 John 4:1. Jesus is not rejecting due legal process where a person who has committed a civil crime. Jesus is not saying that due process should not take place in the church courts when a professing Christian speaks or behaves in public in a way that is explicitly contrary to their stated profession. Matthew 18:17, John 20:23, 1 Corinthians 5:12. So, what is Jesus saying? He is saying that we need to be very careful when we interact with others, not to jump to conclusions about their words and behaviour. It is the self-righteous, self-exalting, frequently hypnotical judging that he is condemning. The governing principle always has to be to give the benefit of the doubt, until the matter is proven otherwise. Be generous in your appraisal of others. ‘Be quick to listen and slow to speak’ is a good maxim. If you are given to jump in to say your piece or declare a conclusion before a sentence is finished you need to take care, because that can be an indicator of a judgmental attitude. And it is a short step from judging to condemning. 
 
Jesus says that real care needs to be taken when assessing the words and actions of others. Not only that, and he doesn't say this, I am saying it because we can tend to get it wrong a lot of the time, but because there is a consequence for us. That consequence is not only in terms of our relationship with the other person. It is much more significant than that. It is the consequence that will come from the hand of God upon us for doing so. The issue is this – when we are quick to judge and condemn, we are not just dealing with 'John Smith'; we are dealing with 'John Smith' who is a creature made in the image of God. 'John Smith' is accountable to God, and not us, for his everyday thoughts, words, and deeds. The fact that we want to intervene in that process, to take the place of God and make ourselves either feel or look better, is unacceptable to God. Yes, by all means, if ‘John Smith’ breaks the law of the land or contravenes the law of God publicly, then he has to be brought to face due process. Yes, by all means, if ‘John Smith’ is a believer and is wandering from the faith, we are at liberty, in fact we are encouraged, to seek his restoration; for it is a good thing. James 4:19,20. However, there can be no place for our mental haranguing of his day-to-day life choices. The first port of call has to be ourselves. Far better to remember that we are accountable to God for what we think, say, and do, before seeking to address those things in the life of another. 
 
If we want to be quick to do anything, Jesus tells us to be quick to forgive. Be desirous not to hold onto the wrongs that others do to us. We should seek to expedite the mental and heart process of releasing them from whatever wrong they have committed against us. Looking to the past and holding onto grievances is not wise. Jesus says that if you don't forgive, then you will not be forgiven. So, a willingness to forgive others is a litmus test of whether one's profession of God's work in their life is real or not. 
 
V38. The encouraging verse.
Many Bible verses are encouraging, but this has to be one of the most encouraging. The ‘good measure’ is a metaphor from measuring out grain in such a way that the full volume, and more, is given. The 'lap' refers to the fold in the outer garment created as it hung over the belt. It was like a pocket. 
 
The wonderful thing is the person who is doing the giving. It is not 'John Smith'; it is God. God, who sees and knows all things. God, who knows when we might have cause to question another's behaviour, but instead we stop ourselves from doing so, and speak a word of encouragement to them instead. God sees and acts for our good when we have mercy upon and forgive another person whose words and actions have genuinely aggrieved us.
 
The second wonderful thing is the manner or amount of giving. The 'pressed down' and 'shaken together' speak of getting as much as possible into the lap. We're not talking about a cereal box here, which when you open it, you have to peer into the abyss to see where the cereal is, in another clear bag at a third down the box. This is packing in such a way that you couldn't get another piece of cereal into it. It's packing it so full, that when you take the lid off, it bursts out like shaken pop in a bottle. It is more than an abundance. It is like the fish filling Simon's boat in Luke 5:6-7. There are so many that the boat is beginning to sink. Do you want your life to be drowning in the blessings of God? It is not hard. Think about, take to heart, and then practice what Jesus tells you here. It is real!   
 

A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 40B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.



Memory Verse. 
'Hiding' the Word of God in your heart will bless you in ways you will never expect.
Ephesians 1:3
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places," 
 
 
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 40. What rule did God at first reveal to man for his obedience?
Answer. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.

This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you find proof texts.
 
 
Thank God.
Thank God that, by his grace and help, we can hold our thoughts and tongues when speaking of others.  
Thank God for the overflowing blessings he promises to us for doing so.
Ask God for his help in these matters. 
 
Take care in Christ,
Andrew 
 
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley

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