A Devotion for 29 January 2021 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
6 ¶ Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
(Micah 6:6-8; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Kindness, mercy and forgiveness are expressions of love. Without love, these would not be genuine. A coin, cast on the ground before a beggar, is not given out of love but out of a sense of pride and hypocrisy. But a warm meal prepared by a kind donor requires both love and effort to prepare. A wilted daisy plucked from the fields by a precious child bears far greater joy to the mother than a bouquet of choice red bud roses wrapped in fine linen from an acquaintance. It is the ingredient of love that enhances an otherwise mundane gift. We are truly unable to give anything to the Lord since all we are, all we have, and all we see were made by Him and belongs to Him already. Even the love we have for the Lord actually has its birthing in Him. God is the Fountainhead of LOVE! “We love him, because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
Love comes from God. It is His Nature – His Person manifested in action. In fact, “God is LOVE!” “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 It is most appropriate that John, the Apostle of Love, writes more about the Love of God than any other in the Bible. It is because Joh dwelt securely in that Love as we all should do. Love, being the measure and compass of all graces, should be expressed in the same love and mercy that our Lord bore for us and for all others. If we are IN Christ, then we must quit ourselves as stones hewn from the great Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ. “And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:3-4
What does it mean to have mercy on others? Truly, this was the question of the lawyer to Christ, “And who is my neighbor?” The carnal mind is centered on SELF! In the self-centered mind, all roads lead home to self. If we are to help someone else, there must be a reward of some sort to the helper. But Christ loved unconditionally, and His mercy and grace were as wide as the oceans. In answer to the lawyer’s question, our Lord told the Parable of the Good Samaritan which so directly represents the nature of Christ that it may as well have used His name in lieu of the Good Samaritan. The love of God, showered abroad in our hearts, should ask no question of return in helping someone distraught and in need. It is not only what we DO, but the motive in our doing it. Love is the proper motive always in showing mercy and kindness. Just as a parent sheds an abundance of love on their little children, with no expectation of reward, so does the Christian reach out to those whose hurt and need come before him.
Mercy is not unlike forgiveness. Forgiveness, too, is one of those graces that are produced by love. If we forgive not those who ask our forgiveness, then the Lord will not forgive us our trespasses. “Forgive us our debts….” How do we ask the Lord to forgive us our debts? “As we forgive our debtors!” Matthew 6:12 In the same way we forgive, we shall be forgiven. Do you remember the Parable of the Merciless Servant in Matthew 18:23-35. During the kings account reckoning, one man’s name appeared who owed him ten thousand talents – an enormous fortune. The man was dragged before the king but had no money to pay. The king ordered him to be sold along with his wife and children in order to pay the debt. His debt represented more than the man owned. It is true of you and me as well. Our sin debt, regardless of size, is more than we could ever pay. In fact, we could not reduce that debt by a single mite no matter our good works. The man pleaded so pitifully that the king had mercy and forgave him all that debt – that which Christ did in redeeming us from sin by paying our own sin-debt.
But observe how cruel and unmerciful was the man who had received such great mercy in the Parable. “But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.” Matt 18:28-31 After God has extended such an ocean of mercy to us, why do we not forgive the very least offense in our friends and neighbors? If a friend offends, and seeks forgiveness, we must forgive. We must be merciful. Of course, as with God, forgiveness is contingent upon repentance; but mercy demands nothing in response. It is granted to the enemy as well as to the friend.
In our Parable above, how did the King (our Father in Heaven) respond to the mercilessness of the man He had forgiven much? “Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” Matthew 18:32-35
Lacking merciful hearts is evidence of lacking the love of God in our souls. Lacking love of God, and forbidding mercy, is proof of a lost and unforgiven soul.
Jesus came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly. Our lives are so much greatly enriched by an abundance of love for God and for others – of mercy and kindness to all, and of just disposition toward all men. “He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.” Proverbs 21:21 Are you seeking that fulness of life made available through the mercy and grace of oiur Lord Jesus Christ? Then act as He acted and think as He thought. Following after righteousness and mercy is to tread that Straight and Narrow Way of the Lord.
“11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 We must surrender our self wills (which are not free wills at all) and put on the Mind that is in our Lord Jesus Christ – then we shall be free indeed. In Christ, we are born anew as new creatures of His own making. Not only will our lives not be subject to death, but our minds, too, are made new. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 We prove that perfect and acceptable will of God by giving evidence thereof in our lives and how those lives reflect mercy, grace, love and righteousness.
CONCLUSION: “12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:12-17