Category Archives: Mercy

Strong Mercy

Proverbs 11:17

“The merciful man doeth good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubleth his own flesh.”

“I Pardon You”

As I thought about this verse, a scene from a movie came to mind. In Schindler’s List, the 1993 masterpiece by Steven Spielburg, two characters, Oskar Schindler and Amon Goeth, discuss what should be done with Jewish prisoners.

Seeing that Goeth (Ralph Fiennes) was a cruel and sadistic concentration camp commander, Schindler (Liam Neeson) tries to convince him that the greatest exhibition of power is not in killing people, but pardoning them.

Schindler:  They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.

Goeth: You think that’s power.

Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.

Goeth: I think you are drunk.

Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. (Schindler gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor) Amon, the Good.

Later in the film, Goeth almost decides to not punish a young boy for not cleaning his bath tub well enough. Instead of beating him, he looks at the boy (remembering Schindler’s words), and says, “I pardon you.” The boy then runs outside as Goeth begings to stare into the mirror, pointing to himself like a Michelangelo painting, and repeating the words, “I pardon you.”

It was only a moment later that Goeth notices a stain on the bath tub. His anger boiled as he picked up his rifle and shot the boy who was now walking to his barracks.

Mercy is Medicine

Just the other day, even though I was broke, I gave the last $20 I had to a man and his wife who had nothing. I am not writing this in order to get a pat on the back, but in order to make a point. The point is that I had no problem sleeping that night. My kindness was a small sacrifice.

However, to show mercy to someone who has wronged you, to someone who has hurt you, can be a tremendous sacrifice. Showing mercy means you give up something, like justice, payback, and revenge. But, there is no greater salve to the soul than showing mercy to the one who least deserves it.

The cruel person feels justified for his actions. But cruelty, no matter how it is rationalized, whether it be towards man or beast, is an acid that eats away at the soul.

Are you suffering from the effects of bitterness? Are you troubled by your anger? There is a cure. It’s called mercy.

He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Maybe some of those demanding “justice” should think about this.

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Wicked Fear

Proverbs 10:24

“The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted.”
Scary Things

There are not many of things that scare me now that I am an adult. However, as a child I lived in dread of a lot of things. I was afraid of vampires, clowns, Russians, and girls with cooties. Now I know that vampires can be killed with a good flashlight (the handle part, that is), and Russia is less of a threat than China. Clowns and girls are still a problem, though.

On the other hand, I used to love to fly in airplanes, drink from unwashed soda cans and public water fountains, and drive sports cars at ungodly rates of speed down curvy mountain roads. Now I know that it takes a long time to fall from 30,000 feet, germs are everywhere, and deer have a habit of walking in front of good drivers.

But the biggest thing is that most of the scary things in life are either in my mind, or avoidable. I have no fear of them eventually catching up with me. If killer bees get too close, I’ll just move. The wicked, however, have no such hope.

Gonna Getcha

I like the way the NIV translates the first part of this verse, “What the wicked dreads will overtake him…” Verse 24 is telling us that the wicked are running from something, while the righteous are running to something. And more than that, whatever the wicked are fleeing will eventually catch up.

What do the wicked fear? What will eventually overtake them? A few things come to mind: being alone, pain, loss, falling, and death.  Huh…coincidentally, all of those will be present in hell. Go figure.

Gonna Grant It

But for the righteous…the ones who know every good gift is from God, the ones who know grace can’t be earned…their desires will be granted.

Amazing, isn’t it? What does the righteous desire? To be loved. To be healed. To have treasure that won’t decay. To be caught up. To have eternal life. Wow! Everything that heaven will bring!

But there’s one more thing: the righteous will welcomed into the presence of their greatest Desire – Jesus.

Don’t run from Jesus. Run to Him. Make Jesus your desire.


Blessings Will Stick

Proverbs 10:6

“Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.”

Nothing Stays

Have you ever heard the old adage, “Like water off a duck’s back?” The reason for that saying comes from the fact that ducks never get “wet,” just in the water ( now that will preach!). You see, because of the oil in a duck’s feathers, the duck can be in the water, have water poured over it, etc., but never actually get wet. The water doesn’t soak in, but runs off.

My head is similar to a duck’s back. There is nothing on my head to make anything stay put. Everything just runs off, down my neck, and under my shirt, especially when it rains. The upside is that I never have to dry my hair when I get out of the shower.

Except Blessings

But the awesome thing is that no matter how slick my bald head is, God is able to heap blessing after blessing on top of it. My glasses won’t stay put; hats get blown off; I cant wear flowers; but the Lord can pile blessings as high as He wants. How is that? Must be a God thing.

I don’t deserve blessings. I don’t deserve anything from God. If you only knew me like I know me, you’d wonder how any blessing would stay on my head. Yet, my Lord is merciful. He is able to do what man and water can’t.

The Wicked

The mouth of the wicked, on the other hand, is covered up with violence. What that means exactly is debatable, but the idea implied is that one usually gets what he deserves. The wicked can be compared to a swimmer in wool clothing and a wool coat. When he gets in the water, he’s sunk.

In General

Generally speaking, this proverb tells us that there are consequences for our actions. The way we live will come back either to bless or haunt us. Right living brings peace, while wicked living never ends well.

Do you want to be thought well of? Live justly. Do you want to reap the rewards of righteousness? Live right. Otherwise, even though there may be some temporary benefits to living like the Devil, the end result of wickedness will have you covering your mouth in shame.

A Prayer

Jesus, even though I am not worthy, thank you for your blessings. My righteousness is in you. I am only “just” because “the just shall live by faith.”  Thank you for your mercy, for when I was yet wicked, you saved me, cleansed me, and put a crown on my head. You are my glory, and I will praise you for your immeasurable goodness to me.


Dependent on Grace

Proverbs 9:11

“For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.”

Health and Safety

Before the days of VCRs and DVDs, ships were supplied with movies on large 16mm reels of film. Each movie usually involved three large reels. Crews could expect to receive a supply of six movies at a time, which could be changed in port several times a year. Every movie began with a short safety feature covering different aspects of shipboard life. It wasn’t possible to skip these items in the way that a cassette or DVD can be fast forwarded, but the makers attempted to make them interesting so that they would be remembered.

The wisdom involved in operating a ship safely cannot be obtained simply from watching movie clips. There are many dangers at sea. While it is wise to educate seafarers in any way possible, training must be supplemented by experience if accidents are to be minimized, and loss of life avoided.

Grace

Wisdom that multiplies our days and extends the years of life cannot be found in a training movie. There is no earthly wisdom that can stand in the presence of God’s grace. In 2 Corinthians 1 the Apostle Paul writes; “We have depended on God’s grace, not on our own earthly wisdom.” Paul recognized that earthly wisdom and years of experience are overruled by God’s grace, which exists outside of all human experience.

Human wisdom considers it folly that God would send Jesus Christ to walk upon this planet. Human minds find it difficult to understand why God would allow created beings to torture and murder His precious Son. But He did. Why? Because of grace.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10 (NIV)

Wisdom may be required extend our days on earth, but it is grace that takes us beyond earth into the presence of our Creator. He alone offers the gift of eternal life.


Write This Down

Proverbs 3:3-4

“Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.”

Write it Down

I don’t know about you, but I can’t leave the house without a list in front of me. Well, that’s not totally true. Leaving without a list is easy, but getting everything done is not. It’s important to write things down.

Every once in a while my wife will send me on an errand to the grocery store. She will say, “Anthony, would you pick up a, b, c, and d, but only 1 of b, and 4 of a. And DON’T forget to get the c with the blue lid.” Are you kidding me? Write it down!

Necklace and Stone

In the proverb for today we read the suggestion to bind mercy and truth around one’s neck, even to write them “upon the table of thine heart.” In effect Solomon is saying, “Son, write these things down; don’t forget them.”

Unlike the “goodness and mercy” that David described following him all the days of his life in Psalm 23:6, the mercy and truth that we are to exhibit toward others is quick to flee. Solomon instructs his son (and us) to not only remember them, but bind them to us and write them in stone. Otherwise, we may forget.

When Mercy and Truth Forsake

The times when mercy and truth are apt to flee is when we are faced with situations in which we are tempted to be unmerciful and to lie. Have you ever been tempted to get even? To lie on your time sheet? Have you ever been tempted to what is wrong in order to get ahead? Don’t.

Even if you have to wear mercy like a necklace; carve truth into the stone of your heart; never let them out of your site. If you let them get away, then you will not find favour with men, nor please God.

A Prayer

Dear Jesus, never let me forget to be merciful and truthful in my actions toward others. Help me to be an example of the mercy you showed at the cross, and a conduit of the Truth that sets men free. Write your law upon my heart so that I may find favour in your sight.


Celebrating His Coming: Thoughts for the 1st Week of Advent – Day 3

road covered with sand

Photo by The Lazy Artist Gallery on Pexels.com

Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way . . . –Hosea 10:13a, KJV

The first week of Advent focuses on the Prophets, which begins with the reminder that we are sinners in need of salvation.

Hosea reminds us that our sin comes from following our own path, a path built on lies, injustice, and counterfeit claims of truth.

But the Lord of Truth is coming to right wrongs and redeem, so let us prepare ourselves!

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord , till he come and rain righteousness upon you. -Hosea 10:12, KJV

Lord of Truth, guide us in all truth, revealing our sin and removing it, and lead us in righteousness and mercy to see where Uou are moving.


Beware of Saying “YAY!”

Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him. – Proverbs 24:17-18 

All Political

As of this writing, we are in a tense political season. Everything from the dog catcher to the future Supreme Court Justice is being hotly debated.

What gets me is the constant digging for dirt … the constant jabbing and sticking it to another … the constant slanted and twisted information leaked to the press … the overall sense that it doesn’t matter the means, as long as the enemy falls.

All it takes is one little suggestion that somebody has something incriminating, some new bit of gossip, some possibly damaging bit of info, for the television to flash with “BREAKING NEWS!!” Then, for the next two days, at least, the smallest piece of supposed dirt will become the most talked about item.

Let’s be completely honest, shall we? Every time there’s any suggestion that the current President may fall from office, the excitement exhibited by the media resembles a child before Christmas morning.

Show Mercy

But if people would only take notice of this bit of wisdom found in Proverbs 24:17-18, they would be more careful with their rejoicing. Notice, God is not taking sides with anyone; He’s only saying that we need to be careful how we react when our enemies fall – Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal, or whatever.

“Enemy” could even apply to the one who’s done you harm, the crook that stole from you, or the lover that ditched you for someone else.

Search the Word of God and you will find that He would much rather show mercy than pour out judgment upon evildoers, and that is why the Lord calls for them to repent (Ezekiel 18:32). So, to rejoice with giddy excitement over the fall of your enemy is to run contrary to the nature of God.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. – Matthew 5:44-45

Those who do end up rejoicing over their enemy’s fall may find themselves disappointed with the end result. 

 


Ransomed and Redeemed

The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright. -Proverbs 21:18 KJV

I see two ways the wicked can be a ransom for the righteous and the transgressor for the upright.

First, the fulfillment of “you reap what you sow.”

Think of Haman from the book of Esther, who hoped to hang Mordecai, but was instead hung on the very gallows he had built.

Or the men who tried to trap Daniel and were themselves thrown into his pit of lions to be devoured.

In other words, if you plan evil against someone, you may very well find yourself suffering that fate.

Secondly, the ransom is not the payment but the prize.

Think of the kidnapped child. The “ransomed child” is paid for and redeemed.

(You probably see where this is going …)

Jesus Christ is the only truly righteous and upright One, and He sacrificed Himself for our ransom. Praise be to God that we wicked transgressors are the ransomed of Christ.

Likewise, we should go out and be willing to sacrifice everything to bring others to the knowledge of our Great Redeemer.


The Cries of the Poor

Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard. -Proverbs 21:13, KJV

I have pretty much always been a compassionate person. There was a time, however, when I followed a party line and believed the poor must have done something to deserve it.

This is especially crazy knowing my family went through a time when we almost ended up homeless, wondering if there was enough food to feed the five of us each day.

Personal Rebuke

But God sent me a bit of a rebuke, and in late 2007 through early 2008 I spent most nights on the streets of metro-area Phoenix. If you can not learn more compassion for others when alongside them, you are truly hard of heart.

I was fortunate (though my parents worried like crazy), but others may not be.

Throughout Scripture, God sets His expectation for His people: to love the widows, orphans, and the poor.

In the literal understanding, help those who do not have enough. This is loving your neighbor.

Deeper Cries

The deeper understanding is to help those who are spiritually poor. Help them find the truth of who Christ is. Feed their spirit and mind with God’s Word.

To not do so is to condemn them – and yourself – to eternal death and judgment, to cries of the poor who will never find rest. That is why to ignore the cries of the poor will lead to your own crying that will not be heard.

Believe in and share Christ and be saved.


Reconciling with the World

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends. -Proverbs 17:9 KJV

Read the Second Letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians).

We are called to a ministry of reconciliation. We are to help reconcile our fallen world to a holy God.

How do we do this?

It is not by constantly telling people what they are doing is wrong. We should, ought to point out their sinfulness and need for a savior, but repeating it over and over and putting forth a air of judgmentalism, driving people away.

Instead, we acknowledge the sin, yes, but we make it clear that we still want to be with them and see them.

That we still love them, because God first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

We must cover their sins with the love of God, as He did for us with the blood of Christ. Then they will be able to see God’s grace that much more clearly.

Even with your brother or sister, your crazy mom or deadbeat dad, the customer who complains about everything or the cashier who messes up your order, and the driver who cut you off in traffic.