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May 26, 2019

Life in the Kingdom: Those Who Are Merciful

Life in the Kingdom: Those Who Are Merciful

Passage: Matthew 5:7

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Life in the Kingdom

Category: Forgiveness, kindness

Keywords: beatitudes, merciful

Blessed are the merciful for they will receive mercy. Mercy is the very heart of God.

Scripture:

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy." Matthew 5:7

Devotional:

In thinking about Pastor Chris's statement that our focus during this sermon series will be on some of the core values of Jesus through studying the Beatitudes, I felt pretty convicted and even more, pretty sad. Our country doesn't seem too big on being merciful lately. The trend is to shame, judge, condemn, correct, and then invite a whole mess of people to join us in our shaming, judging, correcting, and condemning. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is rare. Giving mercy? Practically non-existent. 

As I was pondering this, I was reminded of a question Dr. Phil became pretty famous for asking on his talk show: "How's that working for you?" 

I suppose initially this outrage makes us feel better about ourselves. If we're busy searching out specks in everyone else's eyes, we are way less likely to see the plank in our own eye. As I imagine is the truth for most human beings, there have certainly been people in my life who have offended me or disrespected me. Sometimes unintentionally and sometimes, maybe not so unintentionally. I can shamefully admit that if I can make a snarky comment or get someone else to agree with my assertion that I'm justified in being offended, I can feel pretty high and mighty for a little while. Unfortunately, that feeling doesn't last too long. 

What usually happens pretty quickly is that any satisfaction I feel disappears to be replaced by sadness, anger, isolation, and bitterness. My shoulders tense and my hands clench. Next, my mind races with the other reactions that I should have had and that usually ends with an enormous amount of guilt. 

In other words, no mercy given? No mercy received. 

Super fun, right?  

Conversely, in situations when I've taken a moment to focus on compassion, empathy and perspective before offense and judgment, I find a whole host of different feelings that I think Dr. Phil would agree work out much better for me. 

To give mercy is to understand the most important truth of the Gospel: I am the one who has sinned. I am the one who has offended. I am the one who has disrespected. And I am the one who has unbelievably and inexplicably been shown mercy by a God who has every right to punish me. For me, to give mercy is to unclench my fists. It's to breathe easier. It's to let my shoulders relax. It's liberating and peaceful. To give mercy feels a whole lot like freedom to me.  

Prayer:

Merciful, loving God. Thank You for teaching that as James 2:13 tells us, mercy always triumphs judgment. Thank You for showing us mercy so that we might be free and willing to show others the same. In Jesus's name. Amen. 

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.