Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mercy=Not Getting What You Deserve. Grace=Getting What You Don't Deserve

7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.


John Wesley was a missionary in Georgia. A slave stole a jug of wine and drank it. The governor, James Oglethorpe, wanted the man beaten. Wesley went to the governor to plead for the slave. The governor said, “I want vengeance. I never forgive!” To which Wesley replied, “I hope to God, Sir, you never sin.”

Contrary to the governor's attitude, Jesus says that those who show merciful will be blessed, and will in return be granted mercy. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Grace is getting what you don't deserve. Mercy is pardon. Grace is unmerited favor.

Mercy is shown in the story of the Good Samaritan. In this story, the Samaritan had mercy on, or showed pity to the man who was beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. The irony of this story is that the two men who would be expected to show mercy, the priest and the Levite, both avoided the man by walking on the other side of the road. Maybe they thought the man deserved his plight. Maybe they were too busy with their religious duties. The point is the Samaritan showed mercy, and the two religious people didn't.

I wonder how often our rules and legalisms justify our not showing mercy. It is awfully easy to justify why a person deserves their consequences, and to say, "God helps those who help themselves." But when we were helpless and powerless over sin, Jesus came down to earth and granted us mercy. Although the wages of sin is death, the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. So who are usually the most merciful people? Those who truly understand how merciful God has been to them, and cannot but show mercy to others. Mercy is compassion motivated by love. The same love God has for you, extended to others equally as undeserving as you.

I think this comes up in all kinds of seemingly trivial matters in life. How about the guy who cuts you off or stops when the light is green? They deserve a honk on the horn to let them know they have blown it big time. But how about the time you got a little lost and slowed down to figure out where to turn next? If someone blew their horn at you, you might say, "what a jerk c'mon give me a break!" This is a trivial example, but shows how quickly the tables can turn when we put ourselves in someone else's shoes.

Where or who do you need to show mercy in your life? Who knows by you showing them mercy they might even discover that God is merciful as well? And finally, Jesus promises those who show mercy will be blessed. Mercy opens up the heart of God not only to the recipient of the mercy, but to the giver of mercy too!

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