Blessed are the Merciful...

Right now, our pastor is preaching a series on the Beatitudes, and I've really enjoyed it (you know, for the 3 Sundays I've now been here =). Each message has been great, but this morning, he mentioned tonight's topic as "the hardest one to live." That intrigued me, because I knew the next verse talked about mercy. (I was pretty sure applying "meekness" was more of a challenge!) Anyway, from the very beginning of the message tonight, I felt a little squirmy inside. I won't give every point (sigh of relief from everyone =), but Preacher was talking about enemies of mercy, and the first one he mentioned was pride. Something he said really struck me- he was talking about how we indignantly exclaim, "That person doesn't deserve mercy!" To which he replied, "If they deserved it, it wouldn't be mercy."

Wow. How many times have I said the same thing? "They don't deserve my forgiveness." "She doesn't deserve another chance." "They aren't even sorry... why try to reach out and make things right?"

We don't give mercy because someone deserves it; we extend it because they don't. It's easy to forgive or reconcile with someone who wants it, who has asked for it, or who has repented. What about those who don't? What about the people who not only don't deserve mercy but don't even think they're in need of it? I've found out something about myself in the last year or so- I am not a very forgiving person, especially when a wrong was done to someone close to me. If it's done to me, I'm non-confrontational enough to let a lot of things go, but hurt my friends or family and it takes me a while to get over it. Beyond that, I'm not so good at "looking past" things about people. I recognize that everyone deserves second chances, that God forgives and restores, etc. So why do I hold on to things, at least in my mind?

As the sermon progressed, so did my discomfort. Especially because the main point Preacher was making was that we really, as Christians, have no choice but to be merciful when we measure any wrong towards us against what Jesus went through. One of the best examples of this is Isaiah 53, describing the way Jesus was abused, humiliated, and ultimately sacrificed just for us and our sin. Not only did He extend mercy to those who rejected and hurt Him, but He extended the same mercy to the cause of that indescribable pain- me. And you, and every other sinner (so, everyone ever).

The best part of God's mercy? It knows no bounds.... so neither should mine.

If Jesus can show me mercy after I sent Him to the cross, can't I show mercy to someone I felt has done me wrong? Someone who has fallen into sin? Someone who shows an unkind spirit? Someone who rejects my faith? I've never really thought about it before, but our pastor said tonight, and I agree, that this attribute may be the most "Christ-like" a person can possess. Why? Because personal holiness and righteousness are crucial, but worthless without mercy. No one cares that you portray Christ's holiness (to an imperfect extent) if you do not also extend His mercy.

So, sorry about the mini-sermon. I'm rarely serious here, and will be back to the funny soon. (Most likely while sharing how I obtained a black eye this week. Yes, that's a cliffhanger there.) If nothing else, I needed it. But this week, I'm working on being merciful... judging and "conclusion jumping" a little less while praying and showing kindness more. "Blessed are the merciful." Check out the rest of the verse... "for they shall obtain mercy." Why be merciful? Because we are ALL in need of mercy. And if Jesus could show it us, surely we can show it to someone else. Right? I think so.


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