Blessing of Mercy
Hosea 6:6 NKJV
Matthew 9:13 ESV
I Corinthians 15:58 ESV
JOHN 13:14 ESV
Psalm 116:1-2 ESV
Galatians 5:22-23 (Fruit of the Spirit)
In the scriptural sense mercy generally refers to forgiveness but it also has a deeper meaning. In Hosea 6:6 the prophet wrote, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
The children of God had come to a point where they were focused on repetitive sacrifices and burnt offerings for their misgivings. The word of the prophet Hosea was reminding them God doesn’t want empty words. God wanted (wants) our love and devotion. The Hebrew word for mercy is Hes-ed which is also the word for love to God in piety and loyalty. God wanted their loyalty and love.
When Jesus came, He didn’t change the words of the prophet but he added shocking words to what the prophet Hosea wrote. Jesus said in Matthew 9:13, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came NOT to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I think if I had been in the crowd that day I would have looked at my neighbor and asked him or her to repeat what Jesus said. It would have been something like, ‘Did He just say what I thought He said?’
The reason I would have done a double take on that is because at that time, the righteous had been heralded as ‘good and true’ by the Pharisees.
Now, Jesus was telling them He didn’t come only to call the righteous. He even declared that He came to call sinners.
I believe even 2000+ years later if a preacher declared that wasn’t calling the righteous to come serve but instead he wanted sinners to come we would be shocked.
I’m not sure that they would get any ‘takers’ making a move to the altar. Even when we understand the point it seems to be difficult to comprehend.
Today even when we confess sin it’s not done publicly. It’s a private matter.
Several years ago when I went through a rough patch I went to counseling. I needed to understand what happened and why. To a great extent the counselor helped me to understand the psychology of my pain and loss, but I found I needed to understand the spiritual aspect of my loss.
Someone told me about a place where I could go specifically to seek Spiritual Direction. It was located in a center that was professional and private. I met with a Spiritual Director for several years. I learned a lot about myself and I learned a great deal about my relationship with God.
Up to that point my relationship with God had been about what I could ‘do’ for God. My relationship with God had been based on DOING.
My Spiritual Director had a terrific sense of humor and he asked me why I would think God needs my help? So, I explained I was taught that I need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I was urged to do more research on the subject. I found less in scripture than I expected on the subject of ‘works’.
I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
That scripture points us to being willing to hear God and it says that God is faithful to us (it will not be in vain).
In John 13:14 Jesus told His disciples, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.”
Jesus was telling them to love and care for one another.
Ultimately after several years I came to realize what God really wants is for me to respond to His love. I also came to a point where I realized God gives life to ME. God gives and I receive. God loves and I love God in return.
I am not the center of the universe.
I am not in charge.
In Psalm 116:1-2 the psalmist gives us a perfect example, “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.”
We love God because God hears us. God is the center. Because God heard my cries I will turn to God forever.
I open my hands showing my willingness and God fills me with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
As a child I sang Great is Thy Faithfulness, written by Chisholm Runyan around 1923. We know from history books around that time, the 1920’s were referred to as ‘the roaring twenties’.
Everything I’ve heard and read about that period of time tells me that it was a wild and crazy time period. The culture was undergoing massive changes. It’s like there were so many changes coming so fast that as a people we struggled to know what was good and acceptable. This song reminded us that what we can count on is God’s faithfulness.
The message in the first stanza and the refrain are not written in 21st Century terminology but the message is still important 100 years later, “Great is thy faithfulness, O God my father, there is no shadow of turning with thee, Thou change at not thy compassions they fail not, as thou hast been, thou forever will be. Great is thy faithfulness. Great is thy faithfulness. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed thy hand hath provided, great is they faithfulness Lord unto me.”
The greatest lesson I learned when everything in my world changed was that even though I suffered many losses, God was ever faithful to me.
Ultimately, I was the better for the changes in my life. While I don’t know if God brought the changes or God made the best OF the changes, I learned that THROUGH the changes God was ever faithful to me.
Spiritual Practice: Ever Faithful
Thing of a time when God was faithful to you and be grateful!
In God, Deborah