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

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is Mercy only good when I'm receiving it?

Have you ever noticed that you like it when Mercy is extended to you, but resent it when "bad" people receive Mercy?

As an administrator, I've seen this frequently in the work place. Sometimes a supervisor will be displeased and upset when they've seen me extending grace toward another supervisor. When another supervisor has messed up and they see me coming alongside him to help him overcome his deficiency, instead of coming down on him and meting out punishment, sometimes that stirs up some resentment. But that same supervisor will be grateful for my kindness when it's him that's messed up.

I have an agnostic acquaintance who's voiced an aberration toward the God I follow, and one of the reasons is because he finds the whole mercy thing ridiculous. The fact that the Bible says that someone could live a "good" life and end up in hell, while someone else could live a "bad" life, and then repent and turn to God for salvation near the very end of his life, and get to spend eternity in God's presence - that doesn't seem reasonable or fair to him. I've agreed with him, that it's not fair. The truth is that every one of us deserves to spend eternity in damnation and separation from the Holy God. None of us is good enough, none of us is perfect, so on our own we can not come into the presence of a Holy God. It's only through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in my place that I get to have a relationship with God.

But sometimes I've forgotten about all that.

Sometimes I've become so concerned about being surrendered to the laws of God, and doing things His way, that I forget about being surrendered to the purpose of God. Recently someone mentioned how much they liked a preacher named Andy Stanley, so I googled him, and while I was doing household tasks, I listened to a sermon of his from the book of Jonah. Stanley made this point during his sermon that really hit me:

"you become judgmental by being a very very good person who never surrenders to what God wants to do in the lives of people who are not as good as you are"

Oh gee, isn't that terrible?! And you know what? Sometimes I've been like that. But I never want to act like that again.

What about you, have you ever had problems with judgmental Christians? Have you ever been surprised to find that you've been judgmental? Is it easy or tough for you to extend mercy toward others? What helps you be merciful?

18 comments:

John Cowart said...

"The truth is that every one of us deserves to spend eternity in damnation and separation from the Holy God. None of us is good enough, none of us is perfect, so on our own we can not come into the presence of a Holy God. It's only through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross in my place that I get to have a relationship with God".

You have really summed up the message in a nutshell here.

Michelle said...

"What about you, have you ever had problems with judgmental Christians? Have you ever been surprised to find that you've been judgmental? Is it easy or tough for you to extend mercy toward others? What helps you be merciful?"

Oh dear. I have major problems with judgmental Christians. You know the ones that are likened to the Pharisees. I have such a problem that it drives me insane. It drives me so insane that I become as self-righteous as they are because I don't understand why they just can't understand grace! So, in summary, I have no problem with having mercy or God's mercy on the most evil sinners. You know the really bad ones. ;) But somehow...I just can't be merciful to self-righteous people. And in turn...I become them. I believe God has begun to use this problem I have with others as a reflection of myself.

GCT said...

I agree with John here, it's a great summation. I just hope that one day you will all see how cruel and vicious that message really is. Why would a good god create beings that are all destined for hell? Why would a good god create beings and hold them to an impossible standard, then torture them when they inevitably don't measure up to that impossible standard? Why do people believe that transferance of sins to a supposedly innocent body absolves one of their own sins? Don't we look down on the practice of sacrificing animals to atone for sins (the smell of the burning animal pleasing the gods and all that)? Don't we also view the Aztec human sacrifice rituals as barbaric, while similarly holding that the human sacrifice of Jesus is somehow good?

dsjohndrow said...

The basis for judgment is God's holiness. He created us to be loved by Him, and to be in relationship with him. If even for a moment we would see incidents in our lives where we failed others and hurt them, and the hurt that we have endured when we are hurt by others - we'd begin to see what God's holiness is about.

It is commonplace to hear people talk about justice as if it is a bad or good thing. Families of crime victims sit in court rooms (like me to day) waiting for verdicts that will some how appease there loss or pain, or suffering. They want justice. It is principal of life.

How is it possible to have any kind of justice without judgment? The answer is that it is impossible. And when the pendulum of society swings so that certain types of behavior are OK, where others were previously punished, we see the injustice of a set of laws without a "standard."

God's law demands a certain standard of "good" which is beneficial to all mankind. Loving our neighbor is not even debatable. As noted, we can't measure up. Enter the sacrifice of Jesus and the problem is solved - well, unless you reject Jesus in your heart. A lot of folks give lip service to Christianity and are far from it.

On personal level - I am with Michelle. Self righteousness is the wrong response to judgment and judgmental folks.

God has offered his love, and created hell for the rebellious angels - Lucifer and his band of demons. It was not created for us. We were meant to walk in the cool of the day as Adam did.

With that in mind, Christians are to judge all things, not judge all people. That is what the Holy Spirit's main job is, to help us know what is God and what is not.

The Pharisees tried over and over to trap Jesus. IE: Taxes, the woman taken in adultery. They couldn't.

If we act like Jesus, and listen for wisdom from the Holy Spirit, judgmental people are a lot easier to love and offer mercy. I have loads of experience.

GCT said...

David,
"It is commonplace to hear people talk about justice as if it is a bad or good thing. Families of crime victims sit in court rooms (like me to day) waiting for verdicts that will some how appease there loss or pain, or suffering. They want justice. It is principal of life."

Justice or revenge?

dsjohndrow said...

@GCT - Justice. That is when wrongful behavior is punished. Revenge is when some one does something in retaliation - which usually pertains to something outside the law.

Maybe it's me, but you seem to have a problem with punishment, consequences and penalties. Please correct me if I ma wrong.

If justice does not include punishment, then why have any laws or sentences in the first place? And based on the amount of folks incarcerated in the US, I'd say the problem of justice is not well understood.

Leniency is when a sentence is commuted, reversed, or lightened.

Grace, of course, is when the sentence is served by another.

Mike said...

There was a time in my young Christian life that I was extremely judgmental about people I thought were not as "good" as me. (Little did I realize how "un-good" I really was.)

Anyway, I went thru a period of "falling away", where I sortof abandoned my walk in Christ, and I found the people who once judged with me were now judging me. I vowed that when I "returned" to Christ (theologically, it's a misnomer, but that's a different post) that I would not be the same judgmental person I was before.

I now try to look at people and realize everyone is at a different point of grace in Christ. Christ is working something in me that He may have already dealt with someone else about long ago...but He may not have dealt with it in another person yet.

Great Post, sister!

Mc Allen said...

dble gulp. this packed a wallop. I needed to read this. wow. Thank you for this perspecive. Im going to go and read it again and hope tthat it sinks in.. I love Grace and need it, so Im really working on extending it... xoxo LA

photogr said...

I guess I have to say I am judgmental too much about other followers when I see them doing wrong.

What really gets me riled is when I run across a follower or non follower that openly acts holier than thou to every one. I just have a hard time loving on those types.

Tracy said...

I can so relate to what you're saying Michelle, Mike and Photgr - I struggle with being judgmental toward judgmental Christians!

McAllen - I sure need God's grace every single day so I try to be conscious and show mercy to others.

May said...

I am still struggling with being judgmental about people. It is a good thing thatI have God to help me overcome these times in my life. "O Lord keep watch over the door of my lips."- Psalm 141:3

Marty Duane said...

Your opening sentence grabbed me immidiately and all I could say was, "That's ME!" Sadly.

Your post was one that I needed to hear and I have lots to think...

I will try to love everyone around me.

GCT said...

"Justice. That is when wrongful behavior is punished. Revenge is when some one does something in retaliation - which usually pertains to something outside the law."

Justice is getting what one deserves. Whether what one deserves is punishment or incarceration is not always the case. When we demand that one receive a punishment, in effect, that's a retaliation or revenge.

So, when you ask how we can have justice without judgement, that's easy. Justice would be that the person being murdered by another is simply not murdered, since the victim did not deserve that fate. There's no judgement involved in that scenario.

"Maybe it's me, but you seem to have a problem with punishment, consequences and penalties. Please correct me if I ma wrong."

I have a problem with unproportional punishment, focusing on punishment instead of rehabilitation, the Xian doctrine of the application of this punishment, and the contradictory nature of a supposedly loving god that subjects humans to all sorts of ills, does nothing to stop these ills, and then "punishes" us by throwing us into hell.

"If justice does not include punishment, then why have any laws or sentences in the first place?"

Because they make society function.

"And based on the amount of folks incarcerated in the US, I'd say the problem of justice is not well understood."

Agreed.

"Grace, of course, is when the sentence is served by another."

No, it is not. Grace is when wrong-doings are forgiven. Human sacrifice and transferrence is when the sentence is served by the death of another - as it is in Xianity. Yet, we know that transferring sins to another does not actually absolve one of their moral duties and transgressions. If an innocent person wanted to take the place of a convicted murderer on death row, it would not make sense to release the murderer and incarcerate the innocent instead. Yet, that's exactly what we are supposed to believe, that killing Jesus somehow absolves us of our moral transgressions?

Being Me said...

Mercy can provide immense liberation when you give it to others.


BM

Bomi Jolly - JollyNotes.com said...

Loved this post... really thought provoking! It's so much easier to be thankful for mercy when it's being extended to us! Thanks Tracy!

JD Curtis said...

Don't worry dsjohndrow. GCT seems to think God would be to blame if GCT tied his shoelace in a hurried, haphazard fashion and then fell and skinned his knee. He has admitted as much in the past.

GCT said...

Wow JD, nice non sequitor and attempt at ad hominem tu quoque.

Unfortunately for you, if you take my stance into context it is still something that you are unable to argue against...so unable that you haven't even attempted to argue it and instead have relied on attacking me. Isn't making personal attacks on someone considered rather un-Christ-like by modern Xians or does that only count when the other person isn't an atheist that you hate?

~Tracey said...

@GCT-Jesus CHOOSE to come to earth, knowing full well that he would be sacrificed for our sins. In other settings, most people are "forced" to be the sacrifice-their choice was taken away.

GCT stated "Grace is when wrong-doings are forgiven."
No forgiveness is given when wrong-doings occur. Mercy is receiving that forgiveness even though we don't deserve it. Grace is receiving blessings even though we don't deserve them.

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