This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.
One of my favorite “lanceisms” (a phrase often used by our church chair, Lance Bardo) is one I think he borrowed from a greeting card. “Everything that really matters is measured, but not everything that’s measured really matters.” Unfortunately, it’s too easy to get that backward sometimes.
Some of the religious leaders of Christ’s day were centuries ahead of us in making this mistake – being masters at the art of missing the point. They were fixated with measuring the religious performance of people. In fact, they were experts at it. But when they did that, they measured the wrong thing. How did Jesus respond to their error? ... with pretty severe rebuke: “If you would have understood the statement, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’ you would not have condemned the innocent (innocent in this context being people who broke one of the performance rules those leaders considered important).
The paraphrased message of God: “Stop measuring the behavior of others and start measuring your own practice of mercy.” It’s not that Jesus is trying to say behavior isn’t important, just that mercy is much MORE important.
Consider the following passages and the insights they offer regarding mercy. Then write a prayer that expresses some part of what you learn from them, asking God to increase your propensity for and understanding of mercy.
- Matthew 15:22 – The link between mercy and compassion
- Matthew 18:33 – The reason for and true source of our mercy
- Luke 1:50 – The extent and reach of mercy
- Luke 10:25ff – Who is my neighbor? The objects of mercy
BE A BLESSING
Someone you know or will soon see will need to experience what you learned and prayed about. Look for that person over the next couple of days. Pray for them AND for your willingness and will to represent the mercy of God for and to them. Hear them in your heart as they cry out, “Lord Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me.” Then go and be his answer to their prayer
What if a collection of friends or your entire household decided to practice mercy as a group? How powerful might it be to practice a sort of “group mercy”? What kind of power could that have to change your work environment, campus, or neighborhood? One person practicing mercy is a holy action; a collection of people practicing it together could well be considered a holy movement.
Yes, be merciful, but be together too.