Lesson 1 -- third quarter 2007
June 3, 2007
© Copyright 2007
Not fairness. Mercy!
"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." What a promise, because we all need mercy! But I find it so difficult to show mercy. My natural reactions bend toward vengefulness and condemnation, toward harshness and pitilessness, toward self-righteousness and arrogance. Thankfully, God knows how to fix my problems and I am anxious to have Him do so.
A Christian worker experienced a stunning moral collapse . . . by choice. The veteran missionary of another denomination mourned: "It's partly my fault; I should have prayed more." That, my friend, is mercy.
Mercy deals with people on the basis of need . . . their need. The merciful individual responds to other people in their failures and shortcomings as he would respond to himself -- gently, considerately, redemptively. Mercy forgives. Mercy helps. Mercy sacrifices.
When a "rival" goofs or flounders, mercy grieves and aids. When an antagonist suddenly finds himself at the mercy of the merciful, the merciful shows mercy! When someone is rude or worse, mercy prays about potential trauma, problems, grief or needs in the life of the offender.
Do you see that mercy leaps out of his shoes and into those of the other? How often we fail to do this! God help us to relate to others as He relates to us. Otherwise, Judgment Day will be a merciless occasion for us!
Mercy is superior to fairness.
Not fairness. Grace!
God extended and continues to extend His grace to me.
And through me to others. At least that's what He wishes to do. Having filled me to overflowing with His grace, He intends that I direct that same grace to those around me. Even to my adversaries, both real and imagined.
So again, let me consider four dimensions of this divine grace which is flows to me and through me.
Grace is unmerited favor. "What thank have ye?" (Luke 6:33). That doesn't make much sense, does it? So read the context. And keep this in mind: The word here translated thank is much more frequently translated grace!
Grace is help for living. "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). "But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 4:6).
Grace is love in action. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Grace abounds when most needed. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" (2 Corinthians 9:8). "Find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
Grace. What I need from God.
Grace. What others need from me.
Grace. Way superior to fairness.
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