Being Merciful

“I want you to be merciful more than I want your offerings”   Matthew 12:7

These are the words of Jesus.  They are striking, because they put His priorities in an order most of us have never thought about.  We tend to think of God wanting us to attend to doing things.  We are supposed to use our talents for good, we are supposed to do good works, we are supposed to achieve, we are supposed to give of what we have–but aren’t these things mostly in the category of offerings?  It would seem Jesus cares more about our quality of being merciful than He cares about these other things.  So what is being merciful all about?

It appears that mercy is more about our attitude.  There are works of mercy, to be sure, such as feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, clothing those who need it etc.  But the mercy itself is more of an attitude of the heart.  Being merciful means a number of things.  First, it is having a compassionate outlook, recognizing we all fight our inner battles, and seeing someone at their worst doesn’t define the totality of who that person is.  Second, it is being willing to forgive–not wishing for revenge on the person who has hurt us.  Third, it is giving a person the benefit of the doubt, even if it looks to us as if they have caused their own misery.  Fourth, it is not demanding justice, or our own rights, even if we could, when that would cost the other person.  Fifth, it is choosing not to condemn, recognizing only God knows all the facts of a situation and all the truths about a person.  Sixth, it is humility, knowing we have all required the mercy of God.

God cares about our thoughts and the attitudes of our hearts.  Being humble people before Him, recognizing our own need of His grace, realizing we are not our own, but owe God for everything including our own life, sets us up for a closer and deeper relationship with Him.  Intimacy with God is our purpose.

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