In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time


This line caught my attention as I was reading the second chapter in James out of the Message paraphrase. Here's James 2:8-13 (I've linked to several versions) so you can catch the context:

You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: "Love others as you love yourself." But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can't pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God's law and ignoring others. The same God who said, "Don't commit adultery," also said, "Don't murder." If you don't commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you're a murderer, period.
Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
As I look at this passage in a few versions, I'm impressed that God will treat me as I'm treating others. So for the last couple of days I've been thinking about what kind mercy looks like contrasted with harsh judgment in my daily life.
Sometimes I can get results oriented to the point where I just want to point out the problem and have someone fix it. Be it my sons, spouse, employees or whoever. Sometimes I don't want to take the time to see where the person I want to "fix it" is coming from, or to just open up a dialogue and see what's going on with them. I can be harsh; there's a problem where these people are not meeting up to what I feel is expected/needed and they need to adjust, work harder - in short, "fix it". Repeatedly in life I've seen that when I become more concerned about the person than getting the results I want, that the relationship is enhanced and we're able to more effectively work together to get to those results. It's just that I don't even think this way at all unless I'm plugged into God and His mercy.
I think these words from scripture are great for community life, especially in the church. If we are more merciful with each other and outsiders, it is more effective than harsh judgment. It breaks my heart to hear people pass judgment on someone in church when they are messing up, rather than reaching out a hand to help them out of their problems. I'm uncomfortable when I hear someone criticizing the church if I don't see that person being a loving part of the church, working to make things better (and whenever I'm part of any group, the church included, I need to live in mercy because people are always going to disappointment me because people are not perfect). I struggle with the balance between pointing out the truth when something is wrong, and being merciful. If something is harmful I need to be honest about it so that can be fixed; but how I go about being honest makes a real difference.
Do you ever struggle with being honest but not harsh? Is giving kind mercy easy for you? What helps you extend kind mercy?

30 comments:

Denise said...

What helps it be easy for me to extend mercy to others, is Jesus.

Andrea said...

Usually most people realize if you have love in your spirit.
Blessings, andrea

Coffee With Marty said...

I was thinking about this exact same thing today. One of my friends, that I went all through school with, has now decided he doesn't need God. He uses drugs, gets drunk, and lives an awful lifestyle.

But I still love him, because he was my best friend!

I want to know what you would suggest for me to do? Should I try to be a part of his life, and lead him back to the truth? Or should I recognize that our paths have taken different courses, and to trust it into God's hands to lead him back?

I'd like to hear your feedback.

RCUBEs said...

I always think that I must treat people as I would want to be treated. God bless.

Mike said...

I am of the strong opinion that those of us who call ourselves by the name of Jesus Christ OUGHT to be the most merciful people on the planet! How on earth can a person who has offended an infinite God so much, and who has been forgiven in such great measure, possibly be unmerciful toward others.

(I know, putting faith into practice is always the hardest part.)

How can one realm not bleed over into the other?

Great post...got me thinking on this one!

Tracy said...

Marty - No matter what, I think you're right that you need to trust this friend to God.

Having said that, I'm always for relationship. Of course you don't want to do drugs with him or hang out at parties or clubs where that's the venue, but if he's open to sharing a meal or movie or snowboarding or whatever together sometimes; I'd stick with him. I'd say to continue to show him that you truly care about him as a person and not even feel the need to always try to push him back toward God, or to talk about God or your friend's sin necessarily. You just being yourself, and God's presence in and through you, will be a light toward the way back to God.

Tracy said...

Mike - I know what you mean. I've been forgiven so much, how could I get harsh and judgmental toward anyone?!

GCT said...

If kind mercy wins over harsh judgement every time, why does god:

1. Drown every human being and animal on the planet save for Noah, his family, and 2 of every animal?
2. Send she bears to maul about 40 children for making fun of a bald man?
3. Send people to hell?
4. Send his chosen people to commit genocide in order to steal their land?
5. Send his chosen people to commit genocide to avenge a supposed wrong that happened hundreds of years earlier involving people that are long since dead?
6. Order a man to kill his own son?
7. Allow another man to make a promise to sacrifice the first thing he sees upon returning home while knowing that the man will first encounter his own daughter?

Should I go on? The Bible is a litany of instances where god does not show kind mercy, but wrathful vengeance, anger, cruelty, etc. instead. If it is better to show mercy, then why does god not do it?

Mike said...

GCT...there are limits to everything, including mercy. There comes a time when we all must face the reality of finality, including judgment. If mercy was extended to everyone all the time, then it would seem that nobody would ever die...since all of life is in God's hands.

And the ultimate cruelty shown by God was upon Jesus Christ for sinners. If anyone has any right to complain, it would be Christ, don't you think? Yet, I never heard anything about Him complaining.

GCT said...

Mike,
"GCT...there are limits to everything, including mercy."

Then it is not correct that "Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time." [emphasis mine]

"There comes a time when we all must face the reality of finality, including judgment. If mercy was extended to everyone all the time, then it would seem that nobody would ever die...since all of life is in God's hands."

And, this is a problem for an all-loving god because? Honestly, I'm not seeing the problem here. Don't Xians already contend that no one ever dies since our souls are eternal and they will live on in one of two different places?

"And the ultimate cruelty shown by God was upon Jesus Christ for sinners. If anyone has any right to complain, it would be Christ, don't you think? Yet, I never heard anything about Him complaining."

I don't think this is true at all, nor do I think that no one has a right to complain. Even if it were true that Jesus received the most terrible punishment, that wouldn't mean that no one else has a grievance. That would be like saying that a woman can't complain about being raped unless she was also beaten, since other women are raped and beaten.

Finally, I fail to see how the disproportionate punishments given out or the brutality of the severity shows either mercy or good judgement.

Tracy said...

There's no one quite like you, GCT. I've got to appreciate your keen intellect every time I read your comments.

You & I have talked lots, so you pretty much already know my thoughts on this.

As far as this specific Bible passage that I quoted here, I see it as talking about how we deal with people in specific situations; that kind mercy is more effective than harsh judgment. It's not saying that judgment never happens; it is talking to Believers about a lifestyle.

I know that you and I see this differently GCT, but I see God extending kind mercy to people ALL the time every day. I'm reminded of Lamentations 3:18-27, that talks about how it's because of the Lord's compassion that we are not consumed and that His mercies are new each morning. In items 1, 2, 4 & 5 you mention specific situations we can find in the Bible where God made bad things come to people; these seem pretty terrible to me too - yet, I can't help but ask - what about all the other times we read people doing bad stuff and God responding with mercy? I just choose to think He is God and His ways are not my ways and I can not always understand.

Number 3 is another one where we totally see what the Bible says differently. When I read the Bible I see a God who is committed to mankind. From the first time mankind chose to turn away from Him in the garden of Eden I see God speaking about the way He's made for us to get back to Him through Jesus (I'm referring to the Genesis 3:15 prophesy about Jesus). Throughout the O.T. I see His people loving Him, then turning away and God doing whatever it took to bring them back to Himself & I continually read of God's plan of salvation through the coming messiah. When I read the gospels and see Jesus; again I see a loving God over and over seeking to reconcile mankind to Himself. But it's also very clear that we have a choice to reject Him and that is what sends us to hell (item 3) - our choice.

Item 6, God was testing Abraham's faith and he never did kill his son because God provided another sacrifice. I rejoice when I read this account because I see a picture of God's sacrifice in Jesus on my behalf.

Item 7, God lets us choose and sometimes we make bad choices. I have never made a bad choice that caused someone to die; but I have made selfish, sinful choices that have hurt my sons. I'm grateful for God's forgiveness and that He empowers me to change.

photogr said...

I really like to not judge any one until I know them. Many times I have had dealings with people and thought they were a bit off or not my cup of tea ideaology wise. Afte getting to know them I realized how wrong I was most of the time. A few times I was right in my judging but not much.

Showing others mercy. Why not if they can repent of their wrong doings. However, one cannot show mercy for a sadistic killer of innocent victims that is a serial killer can we?

God is merciful. If you read of the many times in the old testament where God sent the prophets to warn of gloom and doom if the sinners failed to repent, you would have to deduct that He was giving them a choice wouldn't you think? Many did repent and were saved from death and destruction by turning away from sin.

Where God called out for a man to kill his son was only a test to see if that man would be faithful and He stopped that man form harming his son.

There are many instances where God did warn the sinners of the consequences if they did not repent. Some rebelled and refused to repent thus the consequences.

JD Curtis said...

I like the Book of james. thanks for quoting it Tracy.

There's no one quite like you, GCT. I've got to appreciate your keen intellect every time I read your comments

I appreciate it too Tracy. That is when he isnt engaging in snipe-and-dodge tactics and throwing up every conceivable argument possible, no matter how flimsy, to defend his predetermined position and further delay seriously considering his highly flawed worldview.

jenny said...

Being merciful is ...hard. especially if the action pierced you..

GCT said...

Tracy,
If kind mercy is more effective than judgement, as the quote says, then god is not using the most effective method of getting through to people when he sends bears to maul them. That is rather harsh judgement for calling someone a name, don't you think?

It's not enough to say, "Yeah, god did some terrible things, but he did some good things sometimes too." god is supposed to be omni-benevolent, and the scriptures say that kind mercy wins over harsh judgement every time. That's the point. If it's better to not be merciful sometimes, then the scriptures are wrong. If the scriptures are not wrong, then god is not doing what is better when he visits such harsh judgement upon people instead of showing mercy. We have ourselves a contradiction.

photogr,
I flatly disagree that god can not show mercy to a serial killer, even an unrepentant one. god has the power to do literally anything. What would be merciful (not only to the killer but also the victims) would be for god to use his omnipotence power to stop the crimes from happening, to fix whatever it is that is broken in the serial killer's mind - to help the serial killer either never become one or help them learn what it means to be a human that isn't a psychopath.

And, please don't try the free will defense as the victims certainly had their free will revoked, so god would have the ability to restore their free will. ALso, there's a good argument to be made that it wouldn't violate free will for god to help serial killers learn to be part of human civilization (like if something were chemically inbalanced with them and/or their environment helped to contribute, since those factors are beyond their will). Free will is moot with an omni-max god anyway.

Deborah Ann said...

I love that God will treat us how we treat others. Wow. I never thought about that before. I would love to think I'm merciful and forgiving, but there are cases when I'm not. This is definitely something we could probably all use some help with...

Being Me said...

It's easier for me to show mercy when sometimes I do need to learn to be harsh..
Stangely, in the circumstance of my life at the moment, by following God's path it makes me appear weak. But that is precisely what He wants of me. I understand that and I will have to remember that.

BM

20123 said...

快樂與人生,是最好的伴侶 ..................................................

JD Curtis said...

What would be merciful would be for god to use his omnipotence power to stop the crimes from happening

But why stop there GCT? Why didnt God revive my my puppy after somebody backed over it and it died? Is he some cruel task-master that likes watching me suffer?

Why didnt God prevent me from stubbing my big toe last night which I still feel today?

At what point do skeptics realize that the entire range of options is at our disposal, to do evil or do good, and that's the way God designed it? God apparently didnt set out to create robots who are preprogramed to love and serve him. You can accept his message or reject it. It's your decision and nobody else's. I heard a minister reiterating an important point the other day that is worth repeating. When that day comes and you or I, or anybody else is "standing tall before the Man" in judgement, it's going to be laid down in a way that NOBODY can ever say afterward B-b-b-but that wasnt FAIR!!

You only have a limited time to make up your mind if you are going to serve God or mammon. Choose wisely my friend.

Tracy said...

Being Me - The man who mentored me professionally used to say, "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness". Sounds like people may be doing that with you. But I know that if you're continuing to do what you believe God is leading you to do - that is what matters most.

GCT said...

"But why stop there GCT?"

This may surprise you, but indeed. Why did god create a world full of suffering in the first place if god is omni-benevolent and omni-max? One would think that an omni-everything god would abhor that sort of situation and keep it from coming about. So, is god simply inept?

"At what point do skeptics realize that the entire range of options is at our disposal, to do evil or do good, and that's the way God designed it?"

Doesn't this contradict your earlier statement about children?

Anywho, the whole range of options is not open to us. I don't have the option to save others from suffering. The rape victim didn't have the option of not being raped. Do we have the option of not needing salvation? Sorry, but your theology is morally bankrupt.

"God apparently didnt set out to create robots who are preprogramed to love and serve him."

False dichotomy. There's no necessary reason why it's either the freedom to inflict suffering or complete robotic obedience. There's an infinite range in between. Besides, human actions don't account for natural evil.

"When that day comes and you or I, or anybody else is "standing tall before the Man" in judgement, it's going to be laid down in a way that NOBODY can ever say afterward B-b-b-but that wasnt FAIR!!"

I rather doubt that you can back up such a lofty claim. Do aborted souls go to heaven? Justify that one. If they don't, then they have a legitimate gripe with god. If they do, then we all have a legitimate gripe with god. It's really rather simple. In fact, I would contend that every single person standing in front of god can easily make a case that god is not fair. It's quite the opposite of your assertion.

"You only have a limited time to make up your mind if you are going to serve God or mammon. Choose wisely my friend."

When in doubt level threats, right? To paraphrase Homer Simpson, how do you know that the true god isn't Allah or Siva or any of the other panoply of gods out there and your allegiance to Yahweh is just making the true god madder and madder at you? Sorry, but Pascal's Wager is a rather shaky proposition because it fails on just about every front.

JD Curtis said...

So, is god simply inept?

No. You are. And I am. And this world is fallen. Next.

Doesn't this contradict your earlier statement about children?

How so? If a child doesnt know really what's going on and doesnt have much of a grasp on the whole right-wrong thing because they're a bit young to understand, that isnt the child's fault.

Anywho, the whole range of options is not open to us. I don't have the option to save others from suffering

I was referring to the fact that you can choose to do good or bad. That's all. You can't alleviate suffering? Why are missionaries going to the worst spots on the globe to do just that? To let the light of Christ shine where it's needed most.

There's no necessary reason why it's either the freedom to inflict suffering or complete robotic obedience. There's an infinite range in between

"Anywho, the whole range of options is not open to us"

The range would go from obedience to God to outright rejection.

The rape victim didn't have the option of not being raped

The perpetrator had the option to rape or not to rape.

Do we have the option of not needing salvation?

No. You have the option to accept it or reject it for whatever reason you want.

I rather doubt that you can back up such a lofty claim

This falls completely within mainstream orthodox Christianity if you would like to explore the matter further.

Do aborted souls go to heaven?

Why not? If a baby dies inside the womb or outside of it, it goes to Heaven. Again, mainstream orthodoxy.

I would contend that every single person standing in front of god can easily make a case that god is not fair

Youll have the chance to shake your fist at Him and tell Him yourself. My guess is that you would be shitting your pants like a baby.

how do you know that the true god isn't Allah or Siva or any of the other panoply of gods out there and your allegiance to Yahweh is just making the true god madder and madder at you?

By all means. Go out and explore every religion that you want. Compare their plan of salvation and assurance in knowing that you have it to Christianity and tell me what you come up with when reason and logic are applied to other beliefs.

photogr said...

GCT:

So you agree that God does have the power to do any thing? And yes He can show mercy to a serial killer if he repents. I can't do it but He can.

Why Can't God stop this criminal from doing such a ghastly crime? I don't know why. He doesn't confide in me on those iisues. Perhaps you can pray to him and get an answer then let me know.

Yes God does make an effort to stop the killer from doing the crimes. He allowed us to creat a judicial system to hand out punishment for criminals as a deterent but the liberal forces enacted certain restrictions on handing out justifiable punishment because it violates the criminals rights thus reducing the penalty for such crimes. Thus the victim is violated twice.

Doesn't seem fair does it? However, the saving grace is if they are believers, the pain of death is short lived as the promise of an eternal life in His grace is certainlly a reward for being a victim.

You know GCT, You appear to be knowledgable of the bible and for some reason you have looked on it in a negative light. I also know you have a different belief than I do and that is fine. I am not here to convert you but ask you to review the scriptures in an open mind and a positive light. Perhaps you can find the answers you are looking for the questions you have asked.

I don't think mere mortals can answer all your questions but I am sure God can and he would love to have you as a follower.

GCT said...

JD,
"No. You are. And I am. And this world is fallen."

This doesn't answer the objections I raised in any respect. If god abhors suffering, why create a world with so much of it?

"If a child doesnt know really what's going on and doesnt have much of a grasp on the whole right-wrong thing because they're a bit young to understand, that isnt the child's fault."

Then the full range of options isn't really open to the child. At what point does a child become hell-bound?

"I was referring to the fact that you can choose to do good or bad."

Choice is not possible if an omni-max god exists. But, even if it were, there's no reason why my choices to do bad should be allowed to have negative effects on others that did not make that choice or did not choose to have harm inflicted upon them. The system allows for completely innocent people to be shafted by the actions of others. This is an inequitable system.

"Why are missionaries going to the worst spots on the globe to do just that? To let the light of Christ shine where it's needed most."

Why answer your own question? They aren't there to alleviate suffering, but to proselytize. They may think that proselytizing helps, but empirically it doesn't. Look at the deplorable conditions that mother theresa's patients endured because she thought that suffering was a good thing.

"The range would go from obedience to God to outright rejection."

But your argument is based on your assertion that god could not have done things different because he didn't want to have robots. Can I take it from this that you are abandoning your argument? If not, then you must work out the obvious problem that you've just met.

"The perpetrator had the option to rape or not to rape."

See above.

"No. You have the option to accept it or reject it for whatever reason you want."

And thus the system is set up so that failure (going to hell) is the default condition. This is inequitable.

"This falls completely within mainstream orthodox Christianity if you would like to explore the matter further."

That doesn't mean that you can support it. You can't.

"Why not? If a baby dies inside the womb or outside of it, it goes to Heaven. Again, mainstream orthodoxy."

It hasn't alwasy been mainstream BTW. Either way, simply saying that babies go to heaven is not addressing the full objection. If babies go to heaven, then all the rest of us have been unfairly treated.

"Youll have the chance to shake your fist at Him and tell Him yourself. My guess is that you would be shitting your pants like a baby."

You're probably right. In the face of an all-powerful god that isn't afraid to use it in torturous ways, I'm sure I would be scared, just as I'd be scared in front of any genocidal maniac that had the power and the will to do me harm. This doesn't help your argument.

"By all means. Go out and explore every religion that you want."

Have you?

"Compare their plan of salvation and assurance in knowing that you have it to Christianity and tell me what you come up with when reason and logic are applied to other beliefs."

If you apply logic and reason all religions, including Xianity, fall well short of the mark. Xianity is not better. It's not more logical, more rational, more reasonable than any other. All religions rely on superstitious and supernatural claims that simply aren't supported and aren't supportable.

GCT said...

photogr,
"So you agree that God does have the power to do any thing?"

I agree that Xians seem to believe that god is omnipotent. OTOH, I often times run into arguments where god's power seems rather limited and I try to point those out. For instance, lots of Xians claim that evil exists just because that's the way the world works. This is an implicit argument against god's omnipotence.

"Why Can't God stop this criminal from doing such a ghastly crime? I don't know why."

Then you need to re-examine the attributes that you think god holds. If god has the power to stop criminals from raping and killing children (for instance) why does he not do it? If he doesn't want it to happen but allows it anyway, what does that say about god? You can't rule out the idea that maybe he doesn't care or that maybe he's malevolent and wants it to happen. You also can't rule out that god may not have the power to stop these things (i.e. is not omni-max). I also would say that you can't rule out the idea that god does not exist at all.

"Yes God does make an effort to stop the killer from doing the crimes."

If this is true, then I can only conclude that god is inept. If god has the power to stop these things and fails even though he wants to stop it, then there's a problem with his omni-max attributes, meaning that he's simply not omni-max. In fact, I would argue that nothing can happen that god does not desire if god is truly omni-max.

"He allowed us to creat a judicial system to hand out punishment for criminals as a deterent but the liberal forces enacted certain restrictions on handing out justifiable punishment because it violates the criminals rights thus reducing the penalty for such crimes. Thus the victim is violated twice."

Do you really want to argue politics here? Let's stick to the subject.

"Doesn't seem fair does it? However, the saving grace is if they are believers, the pain of death is short lived as the promise of an eternal life in His grace is certainlly a reward for being a victim."

That's like, "Sorry you were raped little Suzie, but we're gonna go get some ice cream now." Of course, how do you know that the victim won't go to hell for more eternal suffering simply because that person held the wrong beliefs?

"I am not here to convert you but ask you to review the scriptures in an open mind and a positive light."

May I suggest that having an open mind means that you don't automatically view the scriptures in a positive light? Having an open mind is what led me to reject the Bible and become an atheist. If I simply viewed everything with a positive light and assumed that all the death and destruction in the Bible, all the anti-human sentiment, all the misogyny, bigotry, etc. was all hunky-dory and had a valid explanation when on explanation was forth-coming, then I would not now be an atheist. Let me ask you, have you ever actually sat down and made sure that all the barbaric cruelty in the Bible really is explainable?

"I don't think mere mortals can answer all your questions but I am sure God can and he would love to have you as a follower."

If mortals can't answer the questions, then why do we simply assume that there are answers, that they are good answers, and that god is blameless for everything? god commits genocide and we shrug it off with the mere assumption that it is OK for him and that he had a good reason? I say forget that. I want to know what the reason is before I follow a self-confessed genocidal entity.

Tracy said...

Well GCT, you always cause me to think.

I want to share some thoughts about the child thing. Children's brains are still developing so they do not have the ability to make a decision for or against Christ. My husband John always quotes 1 John 12:12 that says "I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name." In context, the 12th & 13th verses are listing out groups of people to whom he is writing. I believe that it's impossible to know when a child becomes accountable, because each person develops at a unique pace. So, by this thought process of course aborted babies would go to heaven.

The reason I assume God is blameless is because the Bible tells me He is holy, and my spirit bears witness to this truth.

I do not think there is any way any human being could ever convince another human being to believe the Bible is true, or to think the God of the Bible is good, or to desire a relationship with that God. I believe only the Holy Spirit can do that.

None the less, it's always interesting to talk with you GCT.

photogr said...

GCT:

God committed genocide? To whom? Yes the bible did state instances where He did wipe out nations and people but what were the reasons? In most instances it was retribution from attacking and commiting genocide on His chosen people. Other times He allowed His chosen people to be defeated because they rebeled and turned their backs on His laws and His grace.

You and I will never find a common ground in our beliefs I am afraid but that doesn't mean I will not respect your thoughts and concerns and weigh the facts.

GCT said...

Tracy,
Would it surprise you to learn that many Xians (including Aquinas) have held (and some still do) that babies do not automatically go to heaven? There is support for this in the Bible. Either way is unfair, but that's another discussion.

"So, by this thought process of course aborted babies would go to heaven."

Then, we should celebrate abortion.

"The reason I assume God is blameless is because the Bible tells me He is holy, and my spirit bears witness to this truth."

So, because he told you (thru the Bible) he is holy that means he is? I would say that any entity that tortures others is not holy or good, no matter how much they claim to be.

"I believe only the Holy Spirit can do that."

Then, when I go to hell, it is because the Holy Spirit did not act to convince me. Kind mercy? I think not.

"None the less, it's always interesting to talk with you GCT."

Likewise.

photogr,
"God committed genocide? To whom?"

Noah's flood, Amalekites, Canaanites, etc.

"Yes the bible did state instances where He did wipe out nations and people but what were the reasons?"

Is there any reason that would be acceptable? This holds especially true for a god that has every other option available.

"In most instances it was retribution from attacking and commiting genocide on His chosen people."

Do two wrongs make a right? (BTW, I'm unaware of genocide in the Bible against the Jews. I don't remember any instances of the enemies of the Jews wiping out all the men, women, and children, livestock, salting the Earth, etc.)

photogr said...

GCT:

In 70 AD the Romans did exactly that to put down a rebel uprising.

There are other instances in the old testament where this happened too. Give me time to research this and I will let you know.I do know of some instances that the Jews were captured and made slaves to their captives.

GCT said...

photogr,
Using the Roman example (not genocide) to excuse the actions of the OT which precede the Roman example doesn't help. Besides, my question still stands. Do two wrongs make a right?

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