James 2: 12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Showing mercy, grace and forgiveness is the cornerstone of how the world sees that we are Christian, not just in thought but in action. James is all about ACTION. Please do not misunderstand my theological position. I am not saying we are or can be saved by anything we a do. Being in a right relationship with God again (salvation) is all by God’s mercy and grace given to us when we ask. And my I add completely undeserved. I however do echo James about in 2: 17 that Faith without works is dead.
Back to Mercy:
This Mercy being shown repeatedly is where I struggle. I know the disciples also struggled with this issue when we read in Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.
This 77 times of forgiveness is a gross exaggeration of what would normally be expected. Jesus is basically saying your looking at the wrong thing. Stop concentrating on the times you forgive and start looking a the person you are forgiving. Do you realize the depth of their struggles? Do you have compassion on their situation? Can you for one moment not see your own pain and your own rights and see into the heart of the person offending you. When we look into that heart maybe we can with prayer see the true core issue that is causing them to keep offending. When we see this core issue then we can with kindness and mercy speak truth to them. We can pray more intelligently for God’s intervention in their lives and for them to seek and find the inner healing that they so desperately need.
Our extreme grace offered is the extreme self sacrificing love Christians are called to live out. How different would our world be if they actually saw this kind of love lived out through us? What they see is us digging in and demanding to be heard, demanding non-Christians to live, think and act like Christians. Why are we even surprised at the natural response of anger and hate to us as Christians much less the response when we don’t even live out the words and actions we were called to embody?
Now the argument will be about condoning sin. Let’s get this in focus. A verse we overlook because we teach it to our children may need to be reviewed. John 3: 16-18 (message version) 16-18 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
If Jesus didn’t come to condemn, then those who follow Him do not have the right to condemn.
We have the right to love, to speak truth, and to be a healing reconciling agent of grace but not to condemn. Their are two great examples of this shown y Jesus. The woman at the well (John 4: 1-42) and the woman caught in adultery (John 8: 1-11). Jesus on both accounts never condoned their sin. As a matter of fact He even pointed out the woman at the well’s sin in depth to her. On both accounts Jesus message was one of transformation, acceptance and a chance to go and sin no more.
Mercy is not mercy if it leaves the person where they are. Mercy being shown is only mercy if it deals with the core issue in truth and love. This then leaves us only with a choice of staying where you are by our own choice or the choice God wants us to take and offers for all of us which is to be Transformed. Once transformed we are then able to rise above and be forever changed. At this point we will not only be reconciled to God but the natural outcome is we will be reconciled to all those around us.
Clinging to bitterness, pride, and selfishness is not mercy. This is what it means to die daily.
Luke 9: 23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
This is why we see in John 6 verses 60-66 many of the disciples (not the 12) abandoning and thus they stopped following Jesus. The way Jesus is taking all of us goes against the grain of how we think we should live. The dying to self is something every person who starts this journey must decided if they can continue the journey. The answer is always no if we do it in our own power and not God’s. It is also always no if we try and again cling to bitterness, pride and selfishness. remember 2 Peter 3 14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Let’s go forward in the newness of life filled with Joy that can only come from a resurrected life committed to the ministry of reconciliation through the showing of grace, mercy and above all love.