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?
I'm just grateful to God for His goodness to me and want to live my life following after Him. I've been blessed with 3 awesome sons and in July of 2005 I remarried. My husband truly knows me and still loves me - how much more blessed could I be!
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Perceptive words spread knowledge; fools are hollow—there's nothing to them. GOD can't stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers. A life frittered away disgusts GOD; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.