Do you want to know what I think must really irritate God, what really must get under His skin so to speak? People (believers) like you and me, who have been given mercy yet can’t seem to understand or comprehend that we need to show mercy to others who have wronged us. Showing mercy to others is something that is expounded on from one end of the Bible to the other. This is really something that believers need to take seriously. The Biblical concept of mercy applies to our own family members, fellow church members and the people we work with. Actually it involves everyone we encounter on a day to day basis.
The reason why showing mercy is so difficult is that our flesh, our humanistic tendencies, evaluate wrongs that are committed against us, on or in two different levels or categories. Wrongs that are committed against others and wrongs that are committed against us are not judged equally in our minds, not when it involves us. Usually we have excuses or reasons why our sin or wrong doing was justified. Two different sets of rules. This is where the excuses come into play when looking at wrongs that we have committed.
You hear statements like “I would never say that about someone else”, “I would never disrespect someone like that”, “I’d never hurt someone like that”. Of course, all of these examples are wrong because all of us have at one time or another, said, disrespected and hurt others. Our words and actions have been inexcusable just like theirs.
C.S. Lewis wrote: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”
The reason why I like C.S. Lewis’s quote is because he uses the work “inexcusable“.
When God forgives us for the many wrongs that we have committed against Him, He does so because His Son Jesus paid the price that our sin required. It isn’t our goodness that cancelled the sin, it was the shed blood of Jesus on the cross that cancelled it out. That is why the last words of Jesus on the cross were “It is finished”, paid in full. He wants us to understand that receiving this forgiveness is just one part of of how forgiveness works. We, the recipients of His mercy are to be merciful to others when others commit wrongs against us.
Jesus spoke about it through a parable, (Matt 18:21-35), through the Lord’s Prayer and through many verses throughout the Old and New Testament (Micah 7:18) (Hosea 6:6) (Matt 6:14-15) (Romans 3:23-24) just to name a few.
The definition of grace is “the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.” Key word being unmerited.
When we show mercy to someone by forgiving them, it is NOT necessary that they deserve it. We didn’t. When we allow our human fleshly nature to over ride what God’s Spirit in us would have us do, we walk in the flesh, not the Spirit. Responding to insults with anger, bringing up negative words or actions that the other person has committed in the past to deliberately hurt them is NOT what God would have us do.
Is it easy? No it isn’t but we need to understand what is taking place when this happens. Humanistically speaking, in our fleshly response, when someone hurts us, we want to defend ourselves, justify ourselves, and often get even by hurting them because they are saying things that are hurting us.
Being merciful and forgiving others who hurt us is what God would have us do. Can we do this ourselves? No we can’t, that is why the Holy Spirit within us is necessary, why we need to turn to Him and allow Him to work through us. The Apostle Paul speaks about the conflict between the flesh and the Spirit in Romans 7:21-25 The key verse is 7:25 where Paul tells us that “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Acknowledge the sin that we commit when we do not follow the will of God concerning mercy and ask for His Spirit within us to overcome our flesh. We don’t have to follow the flesh, as Christians, we do have a choice that is not available to non-Christians, His Holy Spirit with us. This applies to all our dealings with Christian and non-Christians alike when they hurt us. It happens. Let the Spirit of Christ within you and me have the victory!
Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Colossians 3:13 NIV “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Luke 23:33-34 NIV “When they came to a place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!