Remember when you were a little kid, and you were playing with siblings, cousins, neighborhood kids, or whomever, and they either tickled you so long or twisted your arm so hard behind your back that you had to cry out for mercy? Just me?
“Say mercy!” And then, gasping, while laughing, crying, or cry-laughing, you’d say, “M-m-errr-mercy!”
Then, if you were lucky, the torture playful bullying would end and you could breathe again. At least until the game started again.
I don’t know about you, but when I cry out for mercy, I am at the end of my rope. I’ve done all I can do, and I am hoping against all hope that the one to whom I’m accountable will forgive–my debt, my poor judgement, choice of words, inconsideration. No matter the transgression, when I beg for mercy, I sure hope the person to whom I beg sees my heart and lets me off the hook. Generally, though, you won’t see me begging for anything, much less mercy. Which, is good and bad. It’s good, because while I am not perfect—far from it—I try to live in the grace of the Holy Spirit as my guide. And because I am saved by grace, I no longer have to beg. I am an heir to God’s beautiful, never-ending forgiveness and mercy. Everything good about that!!! But, sometimes I take the Lord’s mercy and grace upon me for granted. I forget that any sin creates an unholy distance between me and the Creator, and that it’s only through His love for me and His Son’s beautiful sacrifice that I am in a reconciled relationship with God. In short, I get too full of my pride and forget who’s the Driver and who’s the passenger, if ya know what I mean. Man, my faith memory is short. Anyone else feel me?
Even prior to Jesus coming to the earth in human form, God teaches us about mercy:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. ~ Micah 6:8 NIV
See what he did, there? He told us what is GOOD. This lesson is echoed again and again in the Bible, perhaps with slightly different words, but with semantics aligned. Evidently, I’m not the first human with a short attention span. I’m not proud of this, but I sure feel in good company (and God still loved them and loves me). The life of a follower of Jesus is to be characterized by doing what we know is right, loving mercy (sometimes also worded as kindness), and abiding, or, remaining in Him. In His mercy, Jesus sent us His advocate, the Holy Spirit, to indwell us with His truth until we can meet with Him face to face. How cool is that?! When we forget, if we choose to stop, confess, and apologize, He is merciful and gracious enough to forgive! In the book of John, Jesus talks about the first and greatest commandments and how we’ll be known. The short answer? BY HOW WE LOVE. How we love Him. How we love others. How we love by doing, not just by saying.
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…because we’re the rat, the needy one, the selfish one, and plenty stinky and vexing without His love. @Grace_and_Such
To be honest, I love Jesus, and I cannot wait for heaven, but I do not care for the pruning and discipline involved on this side of the pearly gates–which probably means I need more pruning and discipline. Gah! In fact, just this week, I have been struggling through a situation which chiefly requires a broken, merciful heart. And my short term faith memory threatens to want to be self-focused, rather than God- and others-focused.
So that’s when the “walk humbly with your God” part comes in.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:4-13 ESV
May I fix my eyes on you, dear Jesus, whether I’m asking for your mercy or whether I’m meting out some of my own, to be like you. In Your precious name, amen.