Posts Tagged ‘mercy’

Mercy and generosity belong together

January 28, 2012 Leave a comment

Camote Eaters by Carlos Francisco

After reading Luke 6:17-45 yesterday, I pulled out the massive first volume on Luke by Darrell Bock.  Following are some nuggets I discovered:

  • Luke 6:21a The consequence of being among the poor is “hunger and sadness.” Darrell Bock 575
  • Quote from Goppelt, “The hungry are men who both outwardly and inwardly are painfully deficient in the things essential to life as God meant it to be, and who since they cannot help themselves, turn to God on the basis of His promise.”
  • Bock’s summary of the verse: “Blessed are you who sense your lack and depend on God, for God shall accept and reward you in the consummation.” 576
  • Luke 6:22 from Bock, “Blessed are you who suffer scorn and pain as you identify with God and depend on him, for you shall be fully welcomed by him at his table and shall rejoice.” 577
  • Luke 6:22-23 “The disciple is treated as evil, unclean, and thus as a person with whom one does not associate.” Total rejection. 579
  • Luke 6:24-26 Warning about trusting “too greatly in wealth, comfort, popularity and possessions.” 582
  • “An attitude of independence from God is the road to destruction.  Its reward is fleeting, limited to the present.” 582
  • Luke 6:24 “What is condemned is a misplaced focus that zeroes in on this life and its possessions without concern for God’s desires or fellow humans. The danger of succumbing to things of only temporal value is all too real and deceptive.” 583
  • Luke 6:25 “The joy of possessions now will become the pain of what is lost forever.” 585 Darrell Bock
  • Luke 6:26 Warning “not to fall into the trap of courting acceptance for one’s message at the expense of truthfulness. . . Popularity at the expense of being God’s faithful representative is disastrous.” 585
  • Luke 6:27-38
    • Mercy should produce a hesitation to judge others.  Luke 6:27-38
    • Mercy and generosity belong together
    • The disciples are to “make clear what the justice of God would mean for one who steadfastly refused to listen to God; but they were to seek to benefit their enemies as much as possible.” 591
  • Luke 6:28 supernatural love being discussed here since it reverses “all natural instincts.” 590
  • Luke 6:29a “Love is available, vulnerable, and subject to repeated abuse.”
  • Turning the other cheek “is not so much an active pursuit as it is a natural exposure when one reaches out to those who have contempt.”   In other words, we continue “to minister at the risk of further persecution.” 591
  • Luke 6:30b “To commit to a radical love, one must see that God honors such a commitment to reflect his grace (6:35-36).”
  • Luke 6:31 “not simply a command to avoid unfair treatment that one might not wish for oneself. Rather, it is a command to give the same sensitive consideration to others that one might want others to give.” 596
  • “treat others with the respect and sensitivity that one would wish from them.” 597
  • “As you wish to be treated with sensitivity to your preferences, so treat others with sensitivity to their preferences.” 598  (“this does not involve moral areas where God’s desire is clear”)
  • Luke 6:34 “One should give without strings attached.”  601
  • Luke 6:37-38 When we are merciful, we are hesitant to condemn and quick to forgive.  605 (my summary of his words)
  • Luke 6:37 Jesus warns against a harshness that holds onto an unforgiving attitude and ceases to hold out hope. 607 (my summary again)

Comforting and uncomfortable words

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

olivet by gerard laurenceau

In our online formational reading group, we read Luke 6:17-45 this morning and I wanted to share (with her permission) what my wife wrote about Luke 6:35, “For He is gracious to the ungrateful and evil”

I find this verse comforting, but also uncomfortable!


Because grace itself is comforting but uncomfortable.

And this verse is a definition of grace, God’s lovingkindness toward those like me who don’t deserve it.

And the following verse, “Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.” Challenging, but also frightening, as I see how short I fall.

I can only be merciful, gracious, as I draw upon the fountain of God’s mercy and grace toward me.

I wonder what the original hearers of this passage thought? Even for me today, after many years of studying God’s words, and hearing about grace and mercy…even today, I am taken aback anew.

The Power of Mercy

June 10, 2010 1 comment

It takes great power to show  mercy.

Remember what Schindler said about mercy to the German commandant, Amon in Schinder’s List? Amon was trying to impress Schindler with his power,  “They fear us case we have the power to kill arbitrarily.”

Schindler responds with a discussion about killing a man when he commits a crime, “That’s not power though that’s justice. That’s different then power. Power is when we have every justification to kill and we don’t.”

Schindler describes a scene of a man who is guilty and knows he is going to die.  He throws himself on the ground and begs for mercy because he knows he’s going to die.

When you pardon that condemned man, when you show him mercy, “That is power,” said Schindler.

Amon then goes on to show mercy to some of the Jews in the camp (which was Schindler’s hope after all!).

Reflecting on Psalm 51 and the words mercy, kindness and compassion used in verses 1 and 2.

The request is for God’s mercy–chanan,  a “beneficient action freely offered or received”. Chanan “contributes to the well-being of another or to the health of an ongoing relationship” (such as to the poor or oppressed).  God gives favor and “his favor is rooted in his disposition to show favor” (not because we deserve it!)

Mercy can be requested because God is kind–chesed which is translated in many different ways–lovingkindness, loyal love, faithfulness.  In all of its meanings, it has a strong relational aspect.   Like chanan above, chesed often “describes the disposition and beneficient actions of God toward his faithful.”    Chesed is shown because of a covenental relationship; it is deliverance or protection by a superior party and it is shown in the “context of a deep and enduring committment between two partners.”

What I found very interesting was the following statement: Chesed saves people from disasters or oppressors.  Even though it provides eventual salvation, it “does not eradicate the anxiety of the endangered while they await deliverance.”  And so the dynamic is as follows: “one must discover God’s loyal love all over again at each new crisis.”

We can also request mercy from God because of his compassion–racham.  Something that goes beyond what ought to be given.  Racham is the grounds for a prayer for mercy and forgiveness.  “It is a warm compassion which goes the second mile;” “which is ready to forgive sin” and which replaces “judgement with grace.”

Out of God’s kindness and compassion, He is able to powerfully bestow mercy on us.

How have you shown mercy to someone this week?


Why show mercy to our opponents (part 2)

February 4, 2010 Leave a comment

mystic place by marius grozea

God is “kind to the ungrateful and to the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35-36 ESV)

This post follows the one I started on Feb 3 2010.

John Fischer in his catch of the day for Feb 2, 2010, wrote about the lack of kindness and civility regarding the political issues of our day.  He says, as a result, “the hope for gentle debate and reaching a more complicated, but equitable consensus is unlikely.”

Most people would have no problem with his comments at this point.  But, then he writes that the church

“has taken sides along with everyone else and lost its authority to speak into the deeper levels of these issues. The gospel, which values every human being and every human being’s right to freedom, justice and equality has lost its middle ground. While the truth should be speaking into both sides, it is being heard only in one.”

man begging by vicedomini

While it is certainly okay and right to have a position on the various issues of our day, as Christians should we not, of all people, be able to reach across the barrier of whatever issue is being discussed, to value and love those who hold another, even opposite, position from our own?  Again, from Fischer,

“We must remember these are real people we are talking about—people who like us, need Jesus. Making an enemy of someone for whom Christ died is not consistent with the message of the gospel.

. . . We can represent the love of Jesus to everyone. And we can listen and learn even from those with whom we might disagree.”

The expression of mercy was important in the ministry of Jesus.  Twice (Mtt 9:13, 12:7) Jesus quotes Hosea 6:6 in which we are told that it is better to show mercy than it is to offer a sacrifice. There at least five passages in which people beg for mercy before Jesus or God in the gospels.  Four of these are found in Matthew (9:27, 15:22; 17:15; 20:30-31).  Luke also gives us the parable in which the tax collector cries out, God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:9-14) Needless to say, all who request mercy in these examples are shown mercy.

God seems to delight in showing mercy to people.  As He does so, He receives much glory. (Romans 11:32-36; 15:9)

Because of God’s mercy, we are to offer our bodies to him as living sacrifices.  We are to recognize that we have a ministry because of God has shown mercy to us (2 Cor 4:1). Our salvation comes because of the mercy (and grace) of God. (Eph 2:8-10, Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3) It seems to be valuable for us to continually go back and remember that once we had not received mercy from God. (1 Pet 2:10)

If we say that we will show mercy to others when they beg for mercy, it would be helpful to read 1 Tim 1:13-14; which says that Paul experienced the mercy of God even when ignorant, in unbelief and while acting as a blasphemer, persecutor and violent man.  It might also be worthwhile to consider that God demonstrated his love and mercy to us “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8). I don’t know about you but I continue to desperately need the mercy of God every day (Heb 4:14-16). Interestingly enough, God’s wisdom is said to be full of mercy. (James 3:17)

To be honest, I don’t know all the ways that we are to show mercy and love to those who disagree with us, who are on the opposite side of political issues, to our enemies. But, I am pretty sure that we are to show them mercy and that we are to be the ones who initiate expressions of mercy.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Show respect by listening to them (even when they do not listen to us)
  2. Communicate love not hatred (even when they express hatred of us and our position)
  3. Be kind and tender hearted, assuming the best of others (see Eph 4 here)
  4. Avoid name calling (avoid being contentious, seasoning every word we speak with grace)
  5. Agree to disagree

If others can come up with more specific ideas from their context, I would appreciate the sharing of your ideas.

Why show mercy to our opponents (part 1)

February 3, 2010 1 comment

It may be helpful for you to know that the impetus for this post comes out of discussions I have had on political issues with friends and watching/reading the news. I admit to being a Republican and of my  disagreement with a lot (if not most) of what our President has been doing.  However, I have been uncomfortable with what I have been hearing coming from the mouths of evangelicals about the political scene today. So, when I read a post by John Fischer this morning based on Luke 6:32-36, I started to write.

Surprise, surprise! Each time I read that God is “kind to the ungrateful and wicked” in Luke 6:36 I am aware how much the church (and I am including myself here!) does not appear to practice this.  Actually, Jesus does not tell us that we are to be like God in this respect.  However, he does tell us to love our enemies, do good to our enemies and lend to our enemies without expecting to get anything back

in return.  Hmmm, maybe this is being kind to the ungrateful and wicked?

What Jesus does tell us here in Luke 6:36 is that we are to “be merciful just as Your Father (in Heaven) is merciful.”  The word here oiktirmon is an adjective and is found only in James 5:11 where James is trying to encourage perseverance for those experiencing suffering and says “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”   From hileos and eleos (other words for merciful), Jesus tells us that the merciful are blessed because they will be shown mercy (Mtt 5:7), we learn that Jesus is a faithful and merciful high priest (Heb 2:17) and are warned that we will experience a judgment without mercy if we have failed to be merciful ourselves (James 2:12).  Read Matthew 18:23-35 for a sobering parable about someone who failed to show mercy and forgiveness after having experienced it themselves.

Waiting for mercy in the old city by Baruch

Most interesting is in Jude in which we are commanded to “Be merciful to those who doubt.”  That kind of makes sense since in 1:22, we are told to “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”  And regarding the false prophets, Jude writes in verse 23, “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”  Jude is not saying to agree with these people nor even to condone their behavior but he is telling us to be merciful.  Why?  Because God has been merciful to us!

So, if we are to show mercy to our enemies, what about those on the opposite side of a political issue than us? If you think that does not sound fair or wise, I suggest you read the parable in Matthew 20:1-16. God seems to anticipate that some may not like the idea of his showing mercy to certain people and so he states in Romans 9:15-18, “I will show mercy to those to whom I want to show mercy.” Please take up any issues on this with God!


Uncommon Graces

October 27, 2008 Leave a comment

We came home on Friday night about 8 pm from two weeks of visiting folks out of town and we were tired! Slept most of the day on Saturday, not even opening the front door of our house.  On Sunday, missed church and spent some significant time dealing with hurts in our relationship.  Later I went out and saw Tropic Thunder (quite crude so I can’t recommend it but there were a few laughs in it) and almost finished reading Uncommon Graces by John Vawter while having a cup of coffee–Vawter’s book is worthy of a few posts!

As I skim over the book, the following chapters stand out.  Chapter 2–Attentiveness–Vawter says that one of the ways we show our selfishness is in weak listening skills.

“Good listening also requires that we shift the focus of our attention to the other person’s words.  That means our reaction to his or her comments is less important than the content of those comments.  We should never assume we assume what someone else means. Such a judgment comes from pride . . .” 49

How good a listener am I?

Since we do a lot of listening in our current role. i sometimes want to speak truth into a person’s life–Vawter addresses this in chapter 4 of his book, “Candor.”

“Unlike rudeness, candor is the honest, loving, sensitive, and discreet presentation of truth.  It is always poite, gracious and courteous. It respects the dignity and feelings of other people.  It says things so clearly that people cannot mistake what is meant.  It won’t allow a no to sound like a yes. 80-81

For candor to have the positive fruit of truth spoken in love, it requires us to have courage, compassion, faith and the right motivation. “People need to sense we care for them before we confront them.” 81  When we began this role over a year ago, I had said that one of the things that I would do is to ask people the hard questions that no one else is asking.  A year later, (believe it or not) I keep my mouth shut a lot more–some of that is due to the pushbacks that have come when I have tried to speak with insight into a person’s life.  I have not always spoken out of a caring relationship to othes and so I have to accept some responsibility for that.  But there has been enough “other inflicted pain” that I have become much more reluctant to speak candidly to others.  Vawter says the opposite of candor is cowardice–ouch!  Lord, give me courage if you want me to speak after answering these three questions, “Is this the right thing to say? Is this the right time to say it? Am I the right person to say it?” 83

Related to candor is the chapter on mercy.  We need mercy if “we are going to help people overcome the hurts of the past. . . If we truly care about people, though, we will want to go beneath the surface to understand them and to extend mercy.” 89, 91

However the chapter on kindness convinced me that I need to talk to someone about some anger that has been seething below the surface over the past weeks.   Vawter says that kindness doesn’t camouflage anger.  I know the following to be very true, “When we suppress our anger, we may succeed in hiding it from the person with whom we disagree, but at some point it will surface elsewhere.” 113

Well, it should be an interesting week to see where the Spirit leads as I will be sitting in training meetings all week.  May I keep in step with Him!

Have mercy on me

April 5, 2007 Leave a comment

The following was borne out of reflection on Mark 10:45-52.

Have mercy on me,
a cry borne out of desperation
and longing to be whole.
No one else can help me.
Lord, you know I’ve tried
and now, all I am left to do,
is to sit by the road, the dusty road, alone,
shouting for you,
to stop,
to listen ,
to show mercy.

So many voices trying to shut me up.
Pride and independence—I can do it on my own.
I don’t need anyone else.
What a joke!
Reduced to begging, a mockery of a man.
I’m not worthy, who am I?
Why should the teacher help me?
No power, no influence, no money,
no glory to be gained by listening to me.
Should I be quiet?
Remember my place?
My sin? My heritage?

No! A guttural cry,
borne out of desperation
and emerging faith.
Have mercy on me, have mercy on me.
There is no place else for me to turn.
I cannot be silenced.
I will not be silenced.
Have mercy on me, oh God.
Yes, on me, a sinner.
Your mercy is undeserved,
freely given,
my only hope for new life.
Please, just stop and listen to me!

Get up, you fool and be brave!
The teacher is calling you.
I almost fall on my face
as I jump off my mat.
With reckless abandon
I throw off my cloak
and drive forward those leading me.
to you,
to hope.

What do I want?
You to do?
For me?
I can hardly believe what I am hearing.
I want?
You to do?
For me?
Shouting, laughing, my words come tumbling out.
I want to see.
I want to see.
I want to see, again!