Friday, September 19, 2014

"A Heapin' Helpin' of Mercy"

    We expect the world to be the world (and pity us if we expect more!).  We do not, however expect the church to be the world, that is, we anticipate that Christians will act like Christians, or more literally, like Christ.

    We rightly maintain such expectation, encouraging and challenging each other to "walk, even as He walked" (I John 2:6).  No coddling of a lesser standard of life exists in the New Testament, nor should we fail to "exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13).  This being the case, however, it remains true that we all fail at times to trust and obey our Lord, to our own detriment and that of our brethren.  Allow me to shock you: sometimes Christians don't act like Christians.  They (we!) act like the world.

    As the country preacher once suggested, "a heapin' helpin' of mercy" will be required as we live our earthly lives among fellow believers.  The Apostle Paul confirmed such truth: "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31-32).  When believers act like the world, it is incumbent upon other believers to act like, well, like believers.  We never condone sin in others or ourselves, and we must love our brothers and sisters enough to humbly challenge obvious waywardness.  However, a heart of tendermercies, like unto our Father's heart, must govern our response to brothers and sisters who stumble along the path of righteousness, particularly if their fall affects us.  We recall the "heapin' helpin" of forgiveness God has bestowed upon us.  We also affirm that the Christ of mercy constitutes His trusting children as "vessels of mercy", that is, as recipients of pardon who also become bestowers of the same (Romans 9:23).

    Walking in mercy toward our brethren does not come natural to any of us.  It comes supernaturally.  "In this was manifested the love of God toward us because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him" (I John 4:9).  The indwelling Spirit of the Lord Jesus manifests in us the mercy in which He delights as we trust and submit ourselves to Him (Micah 7:18; Romans 7:22).  Yes, sometimes the church will act like the world, providing to us opportunity to act even more like the church.  The challenge of grace is great, but the Christ of grace who inhabits us is infinitely greater.  Let us therefore expect the challenge and the opportunity, remembering the mercy we have received from our Father as the mercy we now bestow upon our brothers and sisters.

"And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another."
(I Thessalonians 3:12)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name.  Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
(Psalm 49:2)

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