Showing mercy

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

th-3As we saw yesterday, these two go hand in hand. You can’t be merciful without receiving mercy, and you can’t receive mercy without knowing you have no shot at righteousness any other way.

Conversely, if someone can’t be merciful, it’s because they can’t stand living outside the constraints and definitions of the law.

If someone can’t be merciful, it’s because that person can’t stand for someone to get something for free when everybody else has to work for it, even if the person who can’t stand it is the one who gets it for free.

Jesus told the story of a man who, after being forgiven a debt he could not repay, immediately went out and threatened someone who owed him money, but couldn’t repay him. That would be someone who could not, for the life of him, be merciful. He was basically saying he did not want to live in a world where anyone can get something for free (except I notice he didn’t turn down his forgiveness).

Mercy is something you have to give out if you are going to receive it for yourself. You simply can’t have it both ways. You can’t really experience God’s mercy while still wanting everyone else to get what they deserve.

You can see this whole dynamic at work these days in the current debate over immigration laws. America is a country of immigrants. The only ones who truly belong here by right of being here first are Native Americans. Someone like me, of European descent, is here by way of immigration. This is a free country that opened its doors to my ancestors. On what basis do I, then, have the right to close those doors and not let anyone else have what I received freely?

Jesus chided the Pharisees for holding the keys to the kingdom, while standing by the door and refusing to let anyone in. The Pharisees were people who simply could not be merciful. Mercy blew their whole system.

Another parable Jesus told was of the landowner who paid all his workers in the field a full day’s wage, even if they only worked the last hour. The only people this bothered were the people who worked all day. If you work for what you get, then it matters what everyone else gets. If what you get comes by mercy and grace, it matters little (in comparison) what happens to everyone else.

It’s a true test of whether someone belongs to the kingdom of heaven, if Jesus can let in anyone He wants, and it’s fine with them. If there is someone you can’t be merciful to, it’s a pretty good indication you are trying to have salvation by works, and not by grace.

fischertheidentical

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8 Responses to Showing mercy

  1. Sandie says:

    I have followed your series on Showing Mercy and agree with you on so many points, especially the parts that show my shortcomings in showing mercy to others, how quickly I jump to judgement. However, regarding your thoughts on the immigration issues we are dealing with on our southern border…I have to respectfully disagree with you. I feel it is a case of ‘spiritual’ apples and oranges as it pertains to showing mercy. Yes, this nation opened it’s doors to the parents and grandparents of our generation, in fact it still does. But they followed the law of our land when they came here, mine through Ellis Island. We are a nation of laws and without them we would have chaos. Believers are told emphatically to obey those that God has placed in authority over us, and told that He has placed them there for our protection. We are can’t condone those that refuse to follow the path that is laid out clearly by law. Our leaders need to deal with our border issues in a just manner, but it has to be dealt with so that we don’t continue to have this conversation in future generations.
    Thank you for creating an open, caring arena for thoughts to be shared.

    • jwfisch says:

      As a nation, we must have laws to operate. I’m mostly concerned with attitude toward foreigners. We can’t expect the nation to behave like a Christian, but hopefully Christians will.

  2. johnhaak says:

    I am surprised this did not generate more comment. I wonder if Sandie and John would agree here as John did not give details on applying Mercy. I doubt John meant that all immigration laws are contrary to Mercy.

    I pray weekly with my brother in ministry, the local Catholic priest who is from Mexico. It has helped me think more deeply about immigration and keep a human face to it. That to me is the Mercy, part. Do I see immigration as a People-Issue?

    I think logistically, Sandie is right and she can still express Mercy. It all depends on remembering how much Mercy we all received and letting that overwhelm us so that even in upholding law we express grace. Practical points on this issue, like Homelessness, need more talk and even more action among us who claim to follow Jesus.

    • Sandie says:

      I also thought there would be more comment, accusing me of being hard-nosed and unfeeling. As a former youthworker and a mom and grandmother, I emphatically say that you do no-one any favors when you allow the established parameters for behavior to be violated. To me, love and mercy make me responsible for setting boundaries, explaining the rules so there is no confusion – then explaining the consequence(s) for ignoring those rules and carrying out the consequence with no malice – just a care and concern for their well-being that show the path to to right-thinking and acting. To do otherwise causes confusion and a loss of integrity for both sides…a good description of our current immigrantion crisis.

      • johnhaak says:

        Sandie … In that same vein of illustration (that I agree with), can it apply to today’s immigration problem beyond making everyone leave that is here illegally? For instance, if a substitute teacher allowed something for a day or two, do you find yourself adjusting your path to getting back to the rules? For instance, that teacher allowed them to use nicer paper in their art work than you normally use. You would not take down all that art work would you? You would probably remark that the paper used is reserved for special art work. Is that a clue on how to react to immigrants being allowed to break our laws?

      • johnhaak says:

        On review, my last sentence is unclear … what I meant is that they were allowed to break laws in the past by administrations not upholding the law.

    • jwfisch says:

      Good word, John.

  3. Sandie says:

    Both of you have made valid spiritual and social points…we have inherited a mess caused by short-term, stopgap ‘solutions’ that just kicked the can down the road. I can’t even wrap my mind around what it will take to fix the mess. I know it will it will take years, at least as many as it took to get here. I think that our growing lack of trust in, and frustration with, our government has led to the ‘every man for himself,’ ‘us against them’ mentality that defines how we look at immigration today. It’s not helped by the middle-class job losses still impacting our citizens. As believers we always have to remember that there are people, made in His image and greatly loved by Him, on the other side of the equation.

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