Daily Reflection – 3/1/2021
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:36-38)
For Christians, one of the greatest mysteries we confront is how much God the Father never tires of showing his steadfast love and mercy to those who seek him. Scripture tells us that his mercies never cease.
One would think that only a fool would walk away from that.
Sometimes I think there are more foolish Christians that I can imagine. Why? Because we have to be open to receiving God’s mercy and pardon. Anger, resentment, an unwillingness to forgive or to ask for pardon can hold us back from the healing power and merciful love that has power to wash away guilt and condemnation, fear and anger, pride and resentment.
The Lord Jesus offers us freedom to walk in his way of love and forgiveness, mercy and goodness. We are called to be merciful towards one another just as our heavenly Father has been merciful towards each one of us.
What makes true disciples of Jesus Christ different from those who do not know the Lord Jesus and what makes Christianity so distinct? It is grace – treating others not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with forbearance, mercy, and loving-kindness.
But too often, we can’t do that because we are too busy judging others – sometimes overtly and sometimes insidiously. We look at a “friend” and expect that friend to be us, to react as we do, to feel as we do and when that person does not, we fault them. Or we look at a stranger whose skin is a different color, or whose behavior is not up OUR standards and we judge; or we decide to “penalize” those whom we judge by subjecting them to gossip, or derision or totally shutting them out of our life.
The issue is we have forgotten what judgement is supposed to mean.
Our Christian progress in life only happens when we are capable of judging ourselves first. But we are all masters of self-justification. We explain away our actions and judgements by blaming others or events in the past or in the now. It’s much easier that way but it sure isn’t progressing in the imitation of Christ to which we are called.
Once we begin to judge ourselves as the sinners we are, we can open ourselves to God’s mercy because we’ll recognize how much and why we need it.
C.S. Lewis once said that the two essential truths of Christianity are that we’re sinners and that Jesus has come to save us from our sins. We can’t appreciate God’s mercy unless we recognize how desperate we are for it. And once we recognize how much we need it, then we can be compassionate on others who need it to. The way we stop judging and condemning others is when we recognize that but for God’s grace we would be under the very same judgment and condemnation because we, too, are sinners who have murdered Christ through our sins just as much as others have.
God the Father doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, but treats us with the love he has for his Son who gave his life in justice and mercy to save our own. Can we imitate that?
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom, pardon, and joy. Transform my heart with your love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, or make me bitter towards anyone.”
God always seeks what is best for each one of us and he teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and unkind towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return. Our prayer for those who do us ill both breaks the power of revenge and releases the power of love to do good in the face of evil.