Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Mercy, Beatitudes Pt 18

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."

If we are truly following Jesus, we will be growing in mercy. This means that we will be offering sacrificial, other-oriented love to those around us who do not deserve it. Think about it this way: Imagine neighbors, family members, co-workers, and friends in your life. Think about them all in one large room. Now in your mind, put them into groups.

Group 1: Those who can benefit you. Those who have something to offer you. And most likely they offer something to society.

Group 2: Those you consider your equal. They are friends you like to hang out with. Your relationship with them is not really about what they have to offer you. They are just friends.

Group 3: Those you know but you don't particularly like, for whatever reason. Maybe it's a neighbor who annoys you. Maybe it's a friend who drains you when you spend time with them. Or a family member who is a downer.

Group 4: Those you know who seem to offer very little to either you or to society as a whole. They are struggling. They are weak and in need. The reason for it could be purely circumstantial or it could be because of some bad choices. Either way, they are not in a place where they can offer much to you or others.

Group 5: Those who are proving to be a problem in your life with their actions and their attitudes.

Most likely people will move from group to group in your perception as time passes. Think about your spouse or your children. Consider a life-long friend or your relationship with a sibling. There are times when someone you love dearly can go from Group 2 down to Group 5 in one quick move. Or consider a young child. They don't offer much to this world except demands for food and a new diaper.

Jesus said that we are blessed when we show mercy to those who do not have anything to offer, when we bless someone who does not deserve it, when we give without any expectation of return. In other words, we don't return evil for evil. We don't return a yelling for yelling. We don't return unforgiveness for unforgiveness. We don't return like for like. Instead we return the opposite.

Think about the people in the different groups. What is your gut-level response to those in Groups 3, 4, and 5? Don't judge yourself or your reactions. Give yourself the space to reflection on your natural reaction. What organically bubbles out?

Now offer those reactions to God. The good. The bad. And the Ugly. Thank God for the good you see.

With the bad and the ugly, resist the inclination to change what you don't like. Don't try to make plans to respond differently. You and I are on a journey of taking on the character of Jesus. When we see areas where we resist being merciful, we are identifying ways that the Spirit wants to work within us, to change us so that we can offer mercy.

At this point, just rest and let the Spirit start the work of changing you from the inside out.

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