God Is Merciful

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:36
When I was younger my parents were part of a small group that had a number of boys our age. I loved when it was time for small group because it meant the boys had a chance to get together and have some fun. One night we found ourselves out in the woods. Not a person or house in sight. Somehow we happened to stumble upon an old abandoned car. The car was completely rusted over, one of the doors was missing, and it looked like it had been there for decades. One of the boys in the group had the not so brilliant idea of seeing who could throw a rock and hit the car from about 20 yards out or so. Of course, being young and immature we all took a couple rocks and pelted that old rusty ball of steel a few times. As we walked closer, we noticed the windshield was still intact. One of our buddies decided to take a large rock and throw it a mile high into the air. I remember watching that rock fall like it was in slow motion, while thinking ‘oh this can’t be good.’ And it wasn’t. The windshield shattered into thousands of pieces. We ended up running away as fast as we could back to the house and didn’t speak of it again!
It was about a month later my mom sat my brother and I down for a talk. She asked us if we knew anything about a broken windshield. Uh yep… guilty as charged. But the talk went completely different than I thought. She said the night the windshield was broken, a neighbor walked over to our friend’s home and reported it. Our friend paid the man for the windshield, and he told our parents not to punish us because it’s something he would have at our age. I remember sitting there shocked that he would pay money for something that he didn’t do. Why would he do this? Because it’s a lifestyle that Jesus desires for his followers to live – ‘Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.’ (Luke 6:36)
It has taken me much of my life to wrestle with this passage. In my heart I know it’s true, and I desire to apply it to my life. At times I do apply it to my life, yet there are a few times I continue to find it so hard. It’s easy to give mercy to someone who is a good, kind, and respectful person. Yet it’s hard for me to give mercy to someone I don’t like or who has really harmed me. But I also know that Jesus gives mercy to saints and sinners. God doesn’t just give mercy to ‘nice’ people. He freely gives his grace to sinners as well, which is good news, because that is all of us.
Peter understood mercy, because he knew his need for it. He rejected Jesus three times in one night! These rejections make the words he writes powerful, because he has lived it. ‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’. (1 Peter 1:3) We have new life because of God’s mercy. We have eternal hope because of God’s mercy. So, what are we do to with it? Perhaps in addition to praising God for his mercy, we can freely extend that mercy to others. We can extend mercy without boundaries, or preexisting conditions, just as Christ extended it to us.
Questions for reflection:

  1. How aware are you of your need for mercy?
  2. Do you find it difficult to extend mercy to others?
  3. How can you grow in your ability to extend mercy to others?
Jay Quick | Student Ministries Director

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