Originally scheduled for May 22, 2016
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 and brimstone.
· 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
· 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 Lord.
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 give.
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?