The new you… merciful and forgiving!
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)
God is serious about this mercy thing. The whole point of Jesus’ story of the unmerciful servant reveals this fact. Those who have received mercy… should give mercy – and in the same manner that they received it (freely, openly, without conditions or limits). If we do not, then the mercy we have received can be rescinded! This was Jesus’ warning to us all (see the rest of the story in Matthew 18:31-35).
We must also remember that when we are asked to extend mercy to others, we run into a very significant problem. Our mercy is going to be extended to people who have mistreated and injured us. They have done something, or said something, that has hurt us to the core. They really don’t deserve our mercy. What they deserve is our vengeance. We should be allowed to pay them back wrong for wrong. After all, that is only right… right?
As someone has said: an eye for an eye, leaves the whole world half-blind.
Jesus’ story of the unmerciful servant is centered in the importance of one fact. As God’s people, we are required to act just like He does. To love as He loves. To give as He gives. To forgive as He forgives. To those who are wrong, hurtful, despicable – to anyone who owes us any sort of debt.
The “punch-line” to Jesus’ story comes from the mouth of the king, in reaction to the unmerciful servant’s actions in punishing the one who owed him a few dollars: “Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant, AS I HAD mercy on you?” (Mt. 18:33) In anger, the king restored the servant’s debt and cast him into prison.
Unforgiveness is an indicator that we feel that we (and our hurt) are more important than God. And God does not take this lightly. In fact, Jesus warned us of this solemn fact: “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive you.” (Matthew 6:15!) How we forgive reveals whether or not we understand the depth of God’s Own forgiveness towards us. If we would rather harbor our grievances (even those that are justifiable in our, or most people’s, minds) then we really don’t grasp the fact that God didn’t harbor His grievances towards us (and they were so many!).
Let’s be real… we cannot forgive, as God forgave us, in our own ability. Only the new creation can BE what God requires us to be. This is really good news. We do not have to work up our desire, or willpower, to forgive others. We just have to put on the new creation – which loves as God loves, and does as God does.
Everything that God asks us to do, flows from what He has already done for us.
We just have to choose to live in, and through, what He has provided!
Prayer focus: God, help me to focus on the fact that You saved me (and already equipped me) to be a living example of Your mercy, at all times.