The Two Sides of Mercy

Matthew 12:7
“And if you had known what
this means, ‘I desire mercy,
and not sacrifice,’ you would
not have condemned the guiltless.”
ESV

              A mentor said, “Don’t make goals based on things out of your control.  Can you control whether a person says, ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to you?  Nope.  Can you control how many letters or phone calls you make or send out?  Sure!  Can you control how much follow up you do?  Yep.  Can you control the response?  Nope.  You will get very frustrated if you make goals based on expectations outside of your control.”

Jesus told the Pharisees to figure out what, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice…” meant.  Their whole world was based on their ability to sacrifice to merit relationship with God and others.  Some people tithe (1/10th) their time and money, the Pharisees meticulously counted out one-tenth of the leaves of mint, dill, and cumin in addition to tithing.  Big boxes strapped on their heads that had little scrolls of verses wrapped inside coupled with lengthy prayer tassels representing length of devotion and prayer.

See why Jesus frustrated them, and why they wanted Jesus crucified?  Their sacrifice was not what God desired.  He wanted them to show mercy and receive mercy.  And receiving mercy in this context meant receiving Christ; not their sacrifice, but God’s.

Have you ever seen a frustrated Christian?  If we base our relationship with God on our ability to sacrifice, aka, our ability to be good, tithe, do this, do that, don’t do this or that, and look happy-shiny all the time; we become hypocrites. Only Jesus could meet the expectation of God concerning sacrifice.

Mercy.  Now that’s a spiritual goal we do have some control over.  Mercy is lovingkindness and compassion expressed to another person.  The two sides of mercy are giving and receiving.  That’s God’s desire for you; to give mercy to others and receive mercy from God.

By Aaron F. Jeffers

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