Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. –Luke 6:36
Do you enjoy giving gifts? I do. I might be odd, but I think that I enjoy giving a gift more than I do receiving one. When we give a gift, it’s nice to hear a “thank you,” but that’s not the main reason most people give. For most, we give as a way of blessing another. Still, when we give someone a gift, I don’t know anyone who thinks, “I hope they curse me and break the gift in front of me.” Thinking this would be crazy. The correct response to receiving a gift is to express thanks.
God is rich in mercy and He loves to give it away. Mercy is His gift to us through Jesus. Most of us are more than happy to accept God’s gift of mercy. And, our correct response is to show God our thanks for His wonderful and life-changing gift.
Telling God “thank you,” is a good start. But, we can do more to express our gratitude. One of the best ways to communicate our thanks for God’s mercy is to show mercy to others. As we read in today’s Scripture passage, Jesus commands us, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Having accepted God’s gift of mercy, He wants us to share the gift with others.
Showing mercy in real life is often hard. If someone wrongs you, a friend betrays you, or your in-laws gossip about you, being merciful isn’t easy. In our humanness, we’re programmed to pursue the eye-for-an-eye response. Showing mercy is an intentional choice–and it’s a costly one. In showing mercy, we give up our right to get even, we give up our claim to restitution and we give up our pride that tells us we deserve better. For some, the cost is too high.
But, here’s the bottom line: God calls His followers to be merciful. If you’ve accepted God’s offer of mercy, you will never have to offer anyone more mercy than God has already given to you. Giving mercy is an opportunity to act in obedience, imitate God, stretch your faith, and strengthen relationships–as you demonstrate your gratitude for God’s mercy in your life. Mercy: it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
1. If you asked those closest to you if they think you are a merciful person, what do you think they would say? Why?
2. Of all of the people in your life, who needs your mercy most? How can you demonstrate mercy to this person today?
James 2:12-14; Matthew 18:21-35; Romans 12:17-21