Mercy • Devotion #1: What is Deserved?

“Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’’” Luke 10:30-35

The age of COVID-19, masks, floods, political dissent, presidential campaign, and defunding the police has brought to the forefront a weakness in the church. As I have read social media posts by others, I soon realized we are on a precipitous slide. The outpouring of our hearts’ true self is alarming. As a supposedly cohesive group, we are quick to disagree and quick to condemn others who happen to be of a different persuasion. Pointing fingers at those who do not share our political ideas or backgrounds, we consider them the enemy. What I am saying is, our hearts are broken. Just like the Priest and Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, we have lost our way (Myself included).

Growing up, I was taught to “never allow a bad deed go unpunished.” It was thought of as being weak and foolish. Getting even meant that sometimes two wrongs do make a right. Seeking revenge was a “normal” reaction to those that seemingly had done you wrong. It was said, “Never allow yourself to be considered weak” by letting a wrong go unavenged. It was not the manly thing to do. Forgiveness was not considered an option, only a weakness. Showing understanding and compassion were less than masculine, and possibly a dangerous thing to do, that is until I received Christ. It changed everything. He changed everything.

Today, I see that same embattlement manifesting itself in the church. We have begun to appear like the world. Reacting to the smallest of provocations, we illicit man’s law in lieu of God’s. Instead of having compassion and mercy, we have chosen a different path. Just as the Pharisee and Levite, we have strayed from the course that Jesus intended. Allowing our differences to become a wedge in our relationship with others, we lose the credibility to speak into their lives. Seeing those shipwrecked along the way, we continue on a course unabated. Either because of selfish desires or worse yet, an angry heart, we have little patience for those we feel “deserve it.” I hope we remember, we also “deserve it,” and Christ had mercy on us. As those who have already found compassion from the Lord, we should share the hope that is in us. Our relationship with others should be mixed with salt and light, not anger and disdain, for the Holy Spirit is in us. Through no good of our own, we have been given mercy and we should show that as proof that we are His.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,  compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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