Mercy

“God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”    Matthew 5:7 (NLT)

Most times when I read about mercy, God speaks to me about forgiveness. Today He is taking me to a different place.

But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen: “In the last days there will be people who don’t take these things seriously anymore. They’ll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts.” These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There’s nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!

But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit, staying right at the center of God’s love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!

Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith. Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.     Jude 17-23 (The Message)

I am a teacher. James has already warned me that what I teach is held to Jesus’ standard and I will be held to His strict standard (James 3:1). Jude speaks what has happened. Many do not want to hear the truth of Jesus and Him crucified. They want to hear self-help speeches. They do not want to hear about the Creator. They want to hear about the creation. I am saddened and angry that most who call themselves Christians are not part of a Bible study. They are not involved in service. They do not love God or others more than themselves and would not consider washing anyone’s feet. Their faith hasn’t grown in the last 10 – 20 – 50 years. There is “no sign of the Spirit”.

And here is where God sends His arrow into my heart. “Have mercy on those who hesitate, Jody. Go after those who are wandering off My path. Have mercy on sinners but not on their sin.” I hear Him tell me not to compromise the message/teaching He gives me but make sure it is always taught with His love. My job is to bring His Good News, not condemn His children. Mercy is about compassion. It is about keeping entangled with the One whose heart is tender so that my heart remains tender.

I was reminded today also of Esther’s story. Esther went from no one to queen. The king’s edict to kill all Jews probably would never have ‘caught’ her. She could have lived out her life safe from the wrath. But Esther was reminded by her uncle, Mordecai, that her life was always to be entangled with others and she now had an opportunity to serve them. And so Esther risked her life to save others. God honored that.

God has shown great mercy to me. My sins were great. The wall around my heart was high and solid. God did not give up on me. He pursued me for 40 years. He did not give up. And just as Jesus told Simon the Pharisee about the sinful woman who washed his feet, “she has been forgiven much because she has loved much” (Luke 7:47). I have been forgiven much – I want to continue to pay that forward. I need God’s Spirit to pour that compassion and mercy through me like an overflowing river.

Thank You, LORD, for Your great mercy.

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