Just in case you were concerned that all this talk of mercy and justice was only an Old Testament concept; today I share the words of Jesus. Matthew records Jesus’ scolding words in Matthew 23. If you are afraid to come to Jesus because of some sin you carry, if you have never accepted the amazing gift of God’s grace and mercy that Jesus embodies, if you think becoming a follower of Christ is all about following rules, keep in mind the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 23 are not for the “sinner.” Jesus never spoke harshly to a sinner. God didn’t sacrifice His only Son to lord your sin over you or simply for the pleasure of reminding you how wrong you are.
Too Weary to Love
Jesus’ words in this passage are for those who claim His name. Jesus’ words do sting, only because God wants His followers to be HIS ambassadors, not free agents who claim His name. The call of the Christian is not to make our own rules. The call of Jesus is not to disregard the rules. The call of Jesus is to give the rules the proper weight.
A few days ago, in the post, Accept No Substitutions I shared my real-life experience with the concept Jesus was trying to get across. As I read this passage, it stings my heart because I’m content to do my best at what I’m good at doing. I will, in essence, give a tithe of my spices; for me that’s easy. Jesus is saying that isn’t enough.
When I look at the call to be merciful, just and loyal, it’s then I realize I underestimate my need for God’s mercy. How can I possibly be merciful to others, if I don’t completely understand the magnitude of God’s mercy to me? How can I act justly if I see others as different from me in our need for a Savior?
Seeking God’s Mercy
This month as I’ve read about and pondered the notion of justice and mercy I’ve come to realize how my heart harnesses and stifles God’s goodness. I’ll admit, I need salvation. I’ll admit, I need grace. I’m reluctant to admit I need mercy. Remember, mercy is not getting the punishment you deserve. If I’m reluctant to admit I need mercy, I’m not very likely to act in mercy toward others.
Have you asked God for His mercy? How much do you think you need? A few weeks ago, I would have shrugged at both of those questions. I’ve come to realize I need an infinite supply of His mercy. I can follow the rules good enough to be accepted by those around me, but I need a huge, daily shot of God’s mercy; more than I ever realized, to be truly obedient. I need God’s mercy not only to be obedient in my motives and actions, but also to make sense of the world around me.
Lamentations 3 is one of my favorite chapters. I looked at it differently today. Life is a constant barrage of consequences, inconvenience, suffering and in some cases pain. In the middle of all of that, regardless of the situation, God offers new mercy each morning.
For what? To make it through the day. Each day, I need to rely on God’s mercy for the events of the day. I need God’s mercy; not for some Herculean task but simply to make it through the day. I need mercy.
How about you?
Father, thank you for your infinite mercy. Thank you for giving it freely. Help me truly understand your desire, not for robotic obedience, to act in justice and mercy and to seek a deeper relationship with You.