Friday, March 21, 2014

Mercy for Those Who Fail to Appreciate It

My TIE Value: Trust in the Lord

     We are often confronted in our college years with several difficult concepts of faith and life. One such concept is the Biblical understanding of mercy. My introduction to mercy unfolded during the course of a year and half when I joined a rescue mission preaching team from my Bible College.

     We carpooled early each Saturday morning with our small team. Each week we were greeted by a joyful man named Andrew who opened the large security gate as we entered the East L.A. location. He would greet us with hugs and praises. Then when we left after preaching and visiting with the community during lunch, Andrew would pray with us as we journeyed back to our campus.

     Andrew’s joy was refreshing. His love for the Lord was contagious. He was getting his life back together after a life long battle with the ugly traps of sin. When he was on the progressive side of his recovery, and spiritual renewal, Andrew had been given the opportunity to work and board at the rescue mission. This was an essential step in getting him experience to lead to new opportunities.  

     In support of Andrew’s focus on life, the members of our team thought to bless Andrew with a new leather bound Bible about the time I started on the team. He received his Bible with great joy. Each week he would talk about how great it was to read God’s Word from his Bible. We felt that our bond with our brother was growing deeper week by week.

     Then a year and a half later, there was another individual who greeted us at the gate. We asked about Andrew and this new individual simply replied, “He has moved on.” We assumed that Andrew moved on to greater opportunities. However, after the worship service and visitation, the pastor who led the day to day operation of the mission told us that Andrew went back into his old life. This pastor gave us a Bible box that was found in Andrew’s room.  Then, to our surprise, we open the box to find the Bible that was given more than a year before. Not only was the Bible in the box, it was in new and unused condition.

     As we were trying to get our heads around what had happened, the pastor exclaimed to us, “They never appreciate nice gifts!” As we were driving back to campus it did not seem to us that there was anything wrong with giving a nice Bible even when the recipient left it behind unread. Matter of fact his lack of appreciation for an opportunity to move away from his former life and embrace a new life was also disturbing to us. However, Andrew’s lack of appreciation for all that was done for him by Christ, the mission and our team should not have rendered the opportunities that were given as a loss.

MY TIE Moment

     This story has never been far from my mind every time the concept of “mercy” has risen to the forefront of ministry.

    The meaning of mercy according to Webster’s dictionary is to:
         (1)    Be kind or have forgiving treatment of someone who could be treated harshly.
         And (2) Kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad situation.

     Mercy is an undeserved gift in order to spare people from the imminent harshness they are about to endure. However, what is the appropriate human response if those who are shown mercy do not appreciate the mercy given?  

    There are several situations that come to my mind where mercy was unappreciated. Such as:

   - A hungry person throws away a sandwich given by the youth group
   - An impoverished family buying $100 worth of lotto tickets instead of needed food
   - An unemployed person failing to show up to a job that was given by a generous business owner
     And the list goes on and on.  

     I have also seen people not impoverished show lack of appreciation for mercy given by them from those who could have fired, sued, and made their lives miserable but chose to give a blessing. Is it any worse for the affluent to be picky at the church luncheon or leave their Bibles unopened? Of course we all from time to time trample upon the gifts of mercy given to us as well.

     Unfortunately, many Christians adopt the attitude of the world and simply stop giving gifts of mercy based on the people do not appreciate it. We are not called to have mercy the way our world defines mercy. We are called to be “Merciful” as Jesus admonished in Matthew 5:7.

     Mercy in the Bible is always a precious gift from God. He shows mercy on whoever He chooses (Exodus 33:19). And everyone whoever receives His mercy never did anything to deserve it. I find it awesome that the place of atonement on the most holy altar was called the “Mercy Seat.”  There are people who reject God’s mercy and will find themselves left to the consequences of their own sins. Still God does not withhold the blessings of His mercy because of people’s rejection or lack of appreciation. Therefore, should never stop being merciful if we are following God’s character of mercy.

     Another brief thought about mercy. Our call to have mercy on other people is not to be with the attitude that we are above those who need our mercy. Only God occupies this place. We are to be merciful in order to receive mercy from one another. We need to realize that at a time we have been:

     - Given opportunity, there was a time we had received opportunity.
     - Forgiven someone of their offenses against us, there was a time someone had forgiven our offenses against them.
     - Sacrificed for the good of others, there was a time someone had sacrificed for our good.

     Failure to understand that mercy should be mutually given to one another will lead to our false justification to stop being merciful. Broken mercy is ailing our world and sadly the church as well. As Christians we ought to bless our world with God’s mercy by extending mercy to our church on way to fulfilling our mission in the world.   

     Just one more thought from Jesus,But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matt. 9:13 – NIV)

     How has Biblical mercy impacted the way you serve God in our church and world?

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