Monday, February 6

Lessons in Mercy - Part 3

Overwhelmed by mercy .... is that your battle cry? Is that the whisper of your heart? Is that the response you have to God for His kindness shown to you?

I am often reminded of how my heart still needs to change when I look at the behavior of my kids and remember what I was like and still am like. Kids can be so merciless at times. From ridicule on the bus to sibling rivalry, mercy is in short demand!

How hard it is for a person, wrongly treated, to show mercy to others. So often the kids (and adults) who have experienced this have difficulty showing grace and mercy to others.

This is the stuff of superhero comics. The villain is the abused, neglected kid that grows up to wreak havoc on the world. They cannot and will not forgive. Mercy is replaced by vengeance. Think Spiderman 3: Harry and the Sandman are good examples.

Matthew 18:21-35

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" 22 Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

23 "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26 "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27 The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28 "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29 "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30 "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32 "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

How would you summarize this story? There are many things that you could emphasize:
1. Forgiveness
2. God's compassion
3. The need to be careful how we treat others
4. How God is going to treat me if I refuse to express the mercy I have received to others.

It is a shocking story. The Jewish children listening to this story would have gasped at a couple of key places:
1. v.27! The debt owed was ginormous! Huge and unpayable. This would be like you owing your employer over $1,000,000 and being called to pay it tomorrow. Good luck with that! The forgiveness of the King is astounding.

You know, this is a lot like the level of mercy we have seen from the Lord toward us ... only His is greater! Our sin debt was far deeper than this man's money problem. We deserved an eternal debtor's prison but got mercy instead.

2. v.28! This guy, who just won the lottery, proceeds to choke and threaten a guy that owes him $10 bucks! It was probably more like a week's worth of work but still! Compared to what he had been forgiven he should have had mercy on the guy that owed him so little.

Aren't we like this? We can get so wound up over the smallest of slights. We are so easily offended by an unkind word, a slight, being overlooked, etc. But, being treated unfairly is the stuff of life. How we respond is the stuff of God! It is the working of mercy in our lives.

How much mercy have you received? How deep was the debt that Jesus paid for YOU? He did not die for some nebulous cloud of world sins .... He died for YOUR sins. He paid the price for YOUR iniquities. It was laid on Him. All of them for all people. He bore everything you have ever done (and the things you have neglected to do!). He bore everything you have done since and everything you will ever do in the future.

How much mercy have you received? Do you reflect on that? Those that are in touch with the sin debt that was forgiven for them will find a reservoir of mercy to show others.

Are you patient with others when they wrong you? Are you slow to speak and slow to anger? Do you find yourself going to God in prayer and finding a merciful partner that understands how you feel but wants you to show mercy any way? Oh, by the way, the mercy He wants you to show He will supply.

There is a warning at the end of this passage ... those that show no mercy will lose what mercy was already shown them. Take that for what you will. It is difficult. Some might deduce that you can lose salvation in that case. Others might deduce that the man never really got it and thus lost what he never really possessed. Regardless, we can tell that God takes mercy seriously and expects us to share the wealth of mercy with others.

Show mercy to others in the same measure you have received. Have a blessed day!

DevoLink: Devotions to help you Link with God.

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