Tuesday, July 22, 2014

July 22, 2014

"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." Matthew 5:7

One of the principles that has guided my pastoral ministry is this truth, "Hurting people hurt people." 

If you have spent more than a couple of days on Planet Earth you have been hurt by a hurting person or you have been guilty of hurting others in your painful periods.

Are you hurting? Are you suffering through a painful period of life?

Do you live with a hurting person? If so, you probably are hurting over not being able to help them plus the pain they inflict upon you by their hurtful behavior.

So, one of the challenges of ministry in a local church congregation is dealing with hurting people. The first challenge is, "How do I keep them from hurting others within the church?" and the second challenge is, "How do I help them deal with their pain?"

Fortunately, Jesus addresses this touchy topic in the fifth Beatitude and the answer will surprise you.

The word for "merciful" in the original language has the idea of being empathetic with the pain of others. Rather than hurting back when someone hurts you, try to understand his pain so you can be helpful to him.

I know that is counter-intuitive to our human nature, but think about the alternative. If you are hurt by a hurting person and you respond by hurting back it only escalates and intensifies the pain.

So, here is how this beatitude can be expressed in daily living, "when you get grief, give grace". When a hurting person hurts you, look for a way to help him.

Mercy is what God shows you and me. Mercy is the flip-side of grace. Grace gives kindness that isn't deserved and mercy withholds punishment that is deserved. Mercy was God withholding with wrath and judgment from us and grace was Jesus taking that wrath upon Himself.

Grace and mercy are the perfect resources for surviving in a world of hurting people. But, they are only available from the Holy Spirit through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Do you need mercy for today?

Jesus has it to give! Get Jesus and you get mercy!

July 23, 2014

"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy."  Matthew 5:7

I have always thought of myself as a good-hearted guy, but now I have scientific evidence to prove it.

As a result of the two day battery of medical tests on my heart, I can now document that my heart is good in every way!

Praise God!

In the Beatitudes Jesus gives you eight traits of a good heart. The trait I am dealing with this week is being merciful.

A simple and practical way of thinking about mercy is "giving grace when you are given grief" or you can say it is "being helpful to someone who is trying to be hurtful to you".

Mercy withholds justice and responds with grace. Jesus told a story that illustrated mercy:

"Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. “But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’  And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18:21-35
One servant gives a great look at what it looks like to be merciful and the other servant is referred to as "unmerciful".
Which servant had a good heart?
Which servant is most like you?
Where do you need to show mercy?