Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I read an interesting article this past week by Pastor Rick Warren. For whatever reason it captured my heart so I want to pass on to you what I gleaned.

The article starts with one of the beatitudes from Matthew 5:7 “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” When most of us think of mercy we think of two things. First, forgiving people who don’t deserve it. Second, helping people who can’t help themselves.

This may be true, but mercy is so much more. Mercy is part of God’s character and there are at least seven facets to it. These seven facets will enable you to transform your relationships and develop a ministry of mercy. I have added my own thoughts to each of Rick Warren’s seven aspects.
1.        Be patient with people’s quirks. By the way, we all have quirks. Instead of getting angry, uptight, irritated, show mercy. “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
2.       Help anyone hurting around me. Remember Jesus pointed out that our neighbor (who we are to love as ourselves) is the one who is hurting. You need mercy to help you love your neighbor (Read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.)
3.       Give people a second chance. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Notice mercy is contrasted with six negative responses. If you want to be merciful: (1) don’t get bitter, (2) don’t yell, (3) don’t get angry, (4) don’t use harsh words, (5) don’t be rude, (6) don’t curse. How many times has God given you a second chance? We want First Free to be known as a church of mercy.
4.       Do good to those who hurt you. Mercy is giving people what they need not what they deserve. Hurt people hurt people. The people who you want to love the least are those who need it the most.
5.        Be kind to those who offend you. Yes, the Bible says be kind to those who are offensive. Arguing with people when they offend you gets you nowhere. “You’ve got to be more interested in winning them to Christ or becoming like Christ than winning an argument.”
6.       Build bridges of love to the unpopular. Why does God want us to build bridges of love to the unpopular and specifically to unbelievers? Because you cannot win your enemies to Christ. You can only win your friends. Building bridges of love can be unpopular, but it coincides with Jesus’ mission: to seek and to save that which is lost.
7.        Value relationships over rules. I want to dare you to do something very risky. I want to dare you to commit an act of premeditated mercy. Be patient with people’s quirks. Give people a second chance. Who is an unbeliever you can invite over for dinner in the next two weeks, just like Matthew did? And then invite them to church. This, friends, is your ministry of mercy.

P.S. When you are stressed out, how do you respond? Do you do more, sleep, yell, exercise, or eat more? Most of us look to those things, thinking it will give us hope. But do they? Join me this Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00 AM as we explore the one thing that brings true hope. Bring a friend with you!

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