Divine Bread/Living Water: In Over My HeadMay 26, 2017
Divine Bread/Living Water: There Can Be Only OneJune 11, 2017
James 2:12-13 NIV:
"Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment."
hen I think of what consistently took place in the Old Testament year after year, generation after generation, where the Hebrews killed and sacrificed millions of animals to cover their sins, I must confess some repulsion to this awful business. Can you imagine the smells and sights of this process – all the slaughter and draining, field dressing and burning? It had to bear the resemblance of a battlefield. Jehovah ordained this ritual practice to picture the hideous, revolting, stinking mess of the iniquity of humanity. All of this sacrifice resulted in mercy for the nation of Israel. They would avoid getting what they really deserved; their sins were covered again and again. Mercy is a messy enterprise.
Resolving and paying for all that is wrong is not easy, nor is it pretty. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, was abused, mutilated and tortured to death in public view where He hung naked and humiliated before His friends and His foes. Perfection was battered and bloodied to provide a solution to God’s demand of how to handle sin. "In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrews 9:22). The perfect answer to reconcile love and justice was broken and spilled out to resolve the question of mercy. Our pain traded for peace, and judgment traded for grace on an instrument of punishment. Jesus received the judgment we deserved so that we could gain a Father and a home to which we had no claim. Mercy is a messy enterprise.
We dare not think that we can escape the messy business of mercy. Having obtained mercy, we must stand ready to practice it and all that it demands. God’s mercy must be passed on to those who don’t think like us, look like us, act like us, smell like us, or talk like us. Mercy is not a comfortable demand. It requires a walk through the stench of unpleasant circumstances to be ministers of grace, peace, truth, and reconciliation in places we may not want to go. It requires us to hold our tongues, stretch out our arms and suffer the pain of rejection at the hands of people we don’t even like. It requires us to hate the sin while loving those that practice it, remembering the mercy shown to us. "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Mercy is a messy enterprise.
Sow the seeds of mercy if you need mercy. As we move forward to meet the demands of mercy, let’s remember that the merciful will receive mercy in the same measure they give it. Let’s remember what James shared in chapter two of his book, “Mercy triumphs over judgment."
Prayer for the Day
Father, help me to remember what it cost You and Your Son to pay for the mess of my sin. Help me to look beyond the mess of others' faults and minister mercy and grace. Give me Your heart to move me in the ministry of mercy as I learn each day that mercy triumphs over judgment and perfect love covers a multitude of sins. For Jesus' sake, Amen.