By Mary Lindow
Then he (Jesus) added,
"Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture:
'I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.'
For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous,
But those who know they are sinners."
It has been said that after the French Revolution, a certain convict that was released on parole traveled the countryside in search of a new beginning. Being an ex-con, as you would expect, led to complications in this search, and he wound up at the gates of a clergyman who agreed to host him for the night.
The convict, as is well known, takes advantage of the bishop’s generosity: getting up early before dawn, he takes off with the bishop’s silver; his escape however is hindered by the local Police Inspector, who after seemingly catching him presents the presumed thief to the bishop for identification. The bishop, without missing a beat, covers for his sneaky guest and speaks such words of kindness over the convict’s past present and future, through releasing him even though caught red handed and deserving of further punishment.
His words? They were profound and dripped of Mercy.
"My friend, you forgot to take the candlesticks as well."
For those of you who are perhaps not familiar with the story about the convict/man and the priest I just spoke of, I am referring to Victor Hugo’s book “ Les Miserables.”
I think Victor Hugo shows something of the challenge of today’s Message of the Gospel that Jesus would want us each to hear and to act upon.
"Be merciful, as your Father is merciful." -Luke 6:36
NOBODY LIKES A BULLY OR TO BE TALKED DOWN TO.
Maybe it is easy for us to be merciful when we have the upper hand. If someone comes begging for forgiveness, it becomes a show–of generosity of spirit, but a show nonetheless–that we are in some way better than that person. Picture elegant royals, who, moments before the execution of a criminal would decree their royal pardon, leaving a lasting impression of compassion upon those pleading for another chance.
THIS IS NOT THE WAY GODLY MERCY WORKS.
Oh how merciful is our Father! It’s not that our faults are not important to an immeasurable God. We have without a doubt deeply wounded the ties that bind us to him.
Yet he still holds out his hand, bloodied and deformed holes in them, created by the nails put in, even to his enemies.
TODAY JESUS INVITES US TO RE-EVALUATE OUR MERCY:
How deeply do I forgive those who offend me?
Do I pray for them, or allow my forgiveness to become a show of winning the upper hand? (Another way of showing false humility.)
The forgiving priest not only forgave Jean Valjean’s theft, he created an excuse for him, and even gave away the last of his own treasure, in the hopes that Valjean would be able to start a new life, knowing that he was shown the purest of love and authentic mercy.
Empathy, pity, sympathy, understanding; favor, grace; benevolence, care, compassion, gentleness, goodness, goodwill, humaneness, kindliness, meekness, mildness, niceness, softness, tenderness; generosity, affection, devotion, love, worship
IT ALSO MEANS…
…Letting go of harshness, accusation, presuming you know better what others need in order for them to better serve God. When we act out like this, we become much like Javert the Police Inspector hounding and lording it over Jean Valjean, bent on making sure all deeds that do not measure up to our way of justice are fully dealt with.
He felt sure that God wanted him to be the individual who would measure out justice and harsh terms of punishment in order to break John Valejan, thus having him pay the price of his wickedness and perchance if once finally shattered and broken, he may perhaps have God look his way .
"DON'T GET MAD -- GET EVEN?”
This seems to be the usual way people view the world nowadays. We should be thankful that God takes a different view of things. Although the Bible makes it clear that God is the Great Judge who hates all evil doing, he is also the Merciful One, who forgives and accepts people who turn to him.
Occasionally God chooses not to grant us mercy; for the purpose of judgment, rebuke, discipline, or testing. Fortunately, for most of us, this is the exception, not the rule. For the time being, God has shown incredible patience and mercy by withholding most of the effects of our sins.
I will have mercy, on whom I will have mercy,
And I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion."
GOD IS NOT ALWAYS SCOLDING US!
"He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger forever."
Could God find reasons to scold His children all the time? Indeed, He could! None of us are perfect. We could all do better.
However, as justified as scolding us would be, God realizes that we would easily be discouraged if all we ever heard was scolding.
When He scolds us He is correcting us so that we confess our sins and do better.
"The Lord All-Powerful says, “They belong to me; on that day they will be my very own.
As a parent shows mercy to his child who serves him, I will show mercy to my people."
ASK GOD FOR THE HELP YOU NEED TO OVERCOME SIN.
Face the reality that much of the suffering in our fallen world is caused by human sin. But count on the fact that God is merciful toward all sinners. Whenever you recognize a situation in which some of your own sin has contributed to your suffering, pray for help, and God will give you the strength you need to overcome sin. Stop holding onto any sinful secrets that have been causing guilt, shame and bitterness in your soul. Confess your sins specifically, repent of them, accept the forgiveness that God offers you, and embrace the power that God gives you to move forward into a better life.
LISTEN FOR GOD SPEAKING IN THE SILENCE.
When your suffering becomes so painful that you can’t make any sense of it or figure out how to endure it, you may feel as if you’re trapped in silence, since nothing that other people say or do to try to help actually breaks through to you. But when you’re at the point where you don’t hear anything else, you can actually hear God best, since you’re less likely to get distracted by the world’s noise around you. In the silence, pour out your thoughts and feelings to God in prayer, and then listen to what He has to say to you. God won’t shout, but He will whisper, to encourage you to keep drawing closer to Him.
SUFFERING IS ALL AROUND YOU IN THIS FALLEN WORLD.
Sometimes it’s so tragic that it’s heartbreaking. Yet, God promises that He is loving and merciful. How can you reconcile these two realities that seem like they compete against each other?
The key is to look for God’s mercy, even when it seems like it can’t exist with the suffering you encounter. God’s mercy is a stronger force than even the worst suffering, and when you look for it, you’ll find it.
The spirit, which he sent to live in us, wants us for him alone.
WE ARE GOD’S OWN.
LET US NOT BE AFRAID TO BE LIKE OUR FATHER.
Let our hearts be conduits of God’s mercy, knowing that we ourselves have been forgiven so very much.
Let us communicate our thanks to Him by being overflowing vessels of kind and tender expression, showing God’s mercy to all.
The Lord is kind and shows mercy.
He does not become angry quickly
But is full of love.
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Copyright © 2017 " THE MESSENGER " ~ Mary Lindow