Thursday, November 13, 2008

The "Be-Attitudes" Part 5


Last time we saw that once we have obtained righteousness through Jesus Christ, we then live out that righteousness which inherently means loving God and loving others. That is, we choose to show a sacrificial form of love regardless of feelings or circumstance.

Most would reserve that type of sacrifice for those whom they deem to be deserving. But God, of course, has other ideas.

“Blessed are the merciful! For they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

Mercy by its very nature is given to those who do not deserve it. And truthfully, none of us deserve it. We are sinners saved only by the grace of God. God loved us while we were still sinners by sending His own Son to die in our place. Jesus was the supreme example of sacrificial love. He was merciful. Now we can take the mercy that has been given to us and let it be poured out to those around us. So, how do we do that?

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. And to him who strikes you on the one cheek, also offer the other. And to him who takes away your garment, do not forbid your tunic also. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from him who takes away your goods, do not ask them again. And as you desire that men should do to you, you do also to them likewise.

For if you love those who love you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what thanks do you have? For sinners also do the same. And if you lend to those of whom you hope to receive, what thanks do you have? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return. And your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest. For He is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:27-36

Those can be some very hard words to hear and even more difficult to live out. I think many times we read that and think, metaphorically, Christians should do that. Or we may even try to turn the meaning of those words into something a little bit more palatable. But they are what they are. And God means for us to live them out. When was the last time you showed love to someone you considered an enemy? Not our “western” type of “feeling” love, but God’s sacrificial, putting-actions-to-our-beliefs type of love.

When was the last time someone used you and you prayed for them? Or someone took something of yours and you didn’t become indignant and demand it back? Our knee-jerk reaction is usually to plead our rights. Again, I take you back to the cross.

Jesus could have claimed His right to lord over all of us, and indeed He is Lord and had that right. But He chose to waive that right for something He regarded as greater: purchasing our freedom from sin and redeeming our souls back from a path to hell solely for an intimate relationship with each and every one of us. He died so that we could live.

And as the Lord is our example, we, too, are to give up our rights. As Christians who have died to the flesh, there is no seeking a life that seems “fair.” There are no rights for a dead man or woman. If we have hidden our lives in Jesus Christ, then we will do as He did: show mercy. We will love the unloving. We will do good for those who hate us because of Jesus Christ. We will bless those who curse us. We will treat all persons as we, ourselves, would want to be treated - the Golden Rule.

But don’t mistake that for foolishness. As a perfect Father, God would never give something to someone that would harm him. And that can include things that would otherwise be good gifts, if someone is living rebelliously and would use the gift poorly.

Liken that to a parent showing wisdom in not giving a teenage son or daughter a car if the child has shown a careless or irresponsible attitude towards driving. A car in that case could be a fatal gift. In that situation, showing mercy would mean not giving a car until perhaps the teenager has grown up and grown more responsible.

Mercy is shown in many ways and we need to always be in prayer seeking God to give us wisdom about the best way to show mercy in every circumstance.

And God promises that as we show mercy to others, it will be turned around to us, and we will be shown that mercy. I don’t know exactly how that works in God’s economy, but I do know that in order for someone to show God’s mercy, that person has to remain abiding in the Vine. There is no strength, no wisdom, no sacrificial love given to others without the One Who has exampled it and Who imparts it to us so that we can turn around and impart it to others. And when a person spends that much time kneeling before their Savior, there is bound to be a heart full of love and repentance from their own sins. And a heart that is contrite is a heart that will receive the full measure of God’s mercy.

So fall at your Master’s feet and receive mercy once again. Then take that mercy and purpose to pour it out on others for a greater purpose than desiring a life that is "fair" or seeing that we ensure our rights: to show the love of God here on this earth. And that love carries with it blessings that will follow us into eternity, something our "rights" will not do. God's love can win hearts into the kingdom of God; it can show compassion to those who have walked away from their faith and see them come back; it can help others grow in their faith as they see that though they have faults or weaknesses or struggles, God loves them and they can be useful to the Lord as they are strengthened and encouraged in Him.

Experiencing joy now and treasures in heaven are better than rights anyway.

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Thanks for sharing!