Originally scheduled for May 22
It is a puzzle: if you look at the end of that verse you
will see that mercy is to be given cheerfully. The word used for
“cheerfully” here is the same root word used in the phrase, “God
loves a cheerful giver.” More than that, it’s the Greek word that we
adopted into our language as the word “hilarious.” At first glance,
it’s not exactly the adverb you’d pick to describe giving mercy. If
we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that the process of
rendering mercy often includes a great deal of condescension.
The main reason for this concerns the people to whom we are
being merciful. There are those who are sick whose conversation is
hard to bear because it’s a constant whine. The poor to whom we
render our compassion are often poor because of their own poor
choices. In other words, we don’t think them worthy of our mercy.
The example of Christ, on the other hand, is quite
instructive here. He did not divide those to whom he gave mercy into
the deserving and undeserving. In fact, the entire concept of a
“worthy sinner” seems quite foreign to him. In giving mercy, he
divided his audience between those who asked and those who didn’t.
Those who asked encountered his style of giving:
Christ gave with kindness. Even to those who needed the warning,
his “go and sin no more” seems a kindly word of warning, not fire
Christ gave with humility. Though he is entitled to all honor as
the creator and ruler of the universe, he never demanded it of those
who sought his mercy.
Christ gave with gentleness. He knew that those who asked his mercy
often came with fear. By his gentle words he calmed their fears.
His mercy comes with patience, for he is not willing that any
should perish. Thus he delays the day of judgment.
Whether it is in forbearance — the gentle rain of mercy —
or in forgiveness, the cloudburst of mercy, we need to imitate our
The cross is the supreme example of mercy. Christ found no
worthy sinners. He therefore did not render mercy to us because we
earned it, but because he loves us. You have freely received this
loving mercy; freely give. Indeed, more than freely, cheerfully
As you take the cup and bread this morning, remember your
Lord sacrifice as an example to you. It is not our worthiness but
his love which makes this possible. He has been merciful to you;
have you followed his example?