What does the Lord require of you…to love mercy…
Some translations say, be compassionate and loyal in your love. Be faithful, loyalty.
Goodness, kindness, faithfulness
To be actively loving/doing mercy/kindness.
We want mercy in our lives. It’s a good thing. Especially when it’s coming in our direction. And we want people to give us mercy. But, do we want to give mercy? Do we want to be known for mercy?
As with the word Justice, defining mercy is not as simple as assigning a word or two to the definition. It is a concept that is quite deep and needs some explanation.
First we see that Mercy is something that we get from God. Because of who we are, sinners, we deserved to be treated a certain way. What we deserve because of our sins, is punishment and death. But, because of God’s mercy, we don’t get what we deserve. So, we can begin to form our definition of mercy in this way: not getting what we deserve.
“He does not deal with us as our sins deserve;
he does not repay us as our misdeeds deserve.”
However, we also see that there are many places in the bible where we are told to be merciful. Mercy is not just a God to man thing, it’s a man to man thing. And that is where we need to know what it means so we know what to do. Yes the definition does include the same idea: not giving others what they deserve. But that is a little hard to clarify. So, let’s look at some different ideas of mercy from Jesus.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?”
In this first story, we can see that Jesus doesn’t just want us to love our friends. Jesus doesn’t just want us to care for the needs of the people we already know and love. Because everyone already does that. Doing that doesn’t set us apart. Or as we understand from other teachings of Jesus, if we only do the same as the rest of the world, we aren’t raising the bar. And much of what Jesus commands us to do is raising the bar on what they were used to doing.
11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of the day, thought that eating with sinners made them unclean. They were only to associate with people who were religious like they were. This was especially true for someone who was a teacher like Jesus. But Jesus understands many things that they don’t. He knows that he is the fulfillment of the law that they were living under and that he would be setting up a new way of doing things. But, he also understood the law that they were teaching and the real intent of it. In fact, this phrase he uses: “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice” is a summary of Micah 6, which is where we get the term “love mercy.”
This was a part of the way of life that they were used to, but none of them were actually living. Instead of being compassionate, they were using the rules to guilt people into things that benefited their leaders’ lifestyle and amplified their power. But Jesus knew that the heart of the law was compassion.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This is the second greatest commandment, according to Jesus. The first is to love God with your entire being. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. This is something the religious leaders of the day were not doing. They weren’t concerned with anyone but themselves.
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Here, we see Paul telling us to be wise in the way we act toward those who have not yet placed their trust in Jesus Christ. We are to make the most of every opportunity, with gracious conversations that are seasoned with salt. In this way we are able to build relationships through which we can answer questions they may have about the faith that we have.
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”
The grace of God is a free gift for anyone who wants it. There are no hoops to jump through. There are no prerequisites. If you want to put your faith in God, that is something you can do right now without having to do anything else. If you want to do that, click here.
What this means for us is that we extent the opportunity for God’s grace to anyone, no matter what situation they find themselves in. This is one way we show mercy. When faced with behaviors that other churches may condemn, we show mercy by offering to walk with someone to lead them to God.
1 Cor. 5:9-12
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.
12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
We neither condemn nor condone. For those who have not yet put their faith in Christ, we understand there is no reason they would want to live for anyone but themselves. As we see here, we have no business judging those who aren’t in the church. We don’t place lifestyle expectations on those living outside the church. Of course, it pains us to see others living in ways that hurts them and those around them. And we want them to know Christ so they can begin to have power to live differently. But we don’t condemn them for living this way. In fact, Jesus said about himself: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)
Neither do we condone what those who don’t know Christ are doing. We do believe those who know Christ are supposed to live in a certain way. So, while we don’t condemn, neither can we condone. We cannot go against our beliefs to say it’s okay to live a certain way. So, we cannot support causes that go against our beliefs. So, while we don’t condemn, we also don’t condone. Instead, we hope.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
The word tells us to do so many things. And there are many things we are told to do that many aren’t doing. So, we want to do what we are told. And since we are told to love mercy, we are going to be a church that is actively loving and doing mercy.
So, for us, this is what Mercy will look like: We will be accepting & non-judgmental of non believers, making it as easy as possible for them to come to Christ. Once they have have the power of Christ living in them, we will begin teaching them how to live.
It’s our job to be accepting prior to someone accepting Christ. We don’t judge those who aren’t Christians, because they don’t have Christ living in them.
We should make it easy for people to accept Christ.
Once they accept Christ, it’s our job to train them in the way they should walk/live/think. (Discipling them.)
Other Passage You Might want to Read.
“For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him. Because he was not able to repay it, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children, and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.’ The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt. After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins. So he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had taken place. Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed. So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart.”
Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.