I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. -Psalm 119:11
By Debbie Ramamoorthy (WITHIN Devotional Writer)
What does Mercy mean to you? I did a quick google search of the biblical meaning of Mercy and words such as: compassion, kindness, pity and love that requires nothing in return, came up.
In Matthew 9:13, Jesus had just finished calling Matthew to follow Him. This created tension with the Pharisees, who saw that not only had Jesus called Matthew, who was a tax collector, but He was sitting, reclining and eating with tax collectors and sinners! The Pharisees questioned all of what they were seeing, asking, "why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (Matthew 9:11). A part of Jesus' response to the Pharisees was, "... I desire mercy, and not sacrifice. For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." Which is why I started by asking, what is this “mercy” that Jesus is asking of us?
In the days that we live in, filled with fear of the pandemic, civil unrest in the US, losses, sickness and more, our identity and role as believers of Jesus takes on an entirely different perspective from the world. When most are turning inwards, we are to turn outwardly. And this is where mercy comes in.
Mercy is actually entering into those spaces of action and proactiveness. Mercy is about inviting in the discomfort and the unknowns. Mercy is less about doing more but about hearing from our Heavenly Father. Mercy requires sitting at the feet of Jesus and surrendering our ways to Him and asking Him to move us with His Spirit.
Tangibly, what does this look like? Sitting and eating with sinners and tax collectors. And there is so much I have yet to learn, but amidst the little that I am certain of, it's this: The more you sit with those who are different, unfamiliar and maybe even, a little scary, the easier it is to love them. The more you hear one's story, the easier it is to bring them in. The more you reach out and invite the unknown into your familiar, the easier it is to bridge those gaps.
I am currently living outside of my home country in the Amazon Jungle, in South America. When people initially hear this, some of their instinctual thoughts are, "wow! What a sacrifice!" It's almost as if simply living here is the work done. What they don't know is that it’s just the beginning.
The sacrifice is not living here, in this beautiful country, amidst the incredible people. Obedience to Jesus in following Him here is not about being far away from family, being unemployed (thanks COVID!), never being able to see about 2-3 months ahead of me, living across oceans from my people and community, or not getting to go visit family once every year or two (if even).
Jesus isn't seeing whether or not I will go and check a box saying, "yes, I sacrificed, my work is done." Nor does He desire for us to think that He owes us anything just because we aren't getting what we may have initially mapped out for our lives!
No, Jesus desires Mercy! And mercy is seeing sacrifice as simply the starting point to actually acting out mercy. Sacrifice is our awareness of what we have given up. And that's just leading to the path that Jesus is paving out for us to live out mercy. We are often acutely aware of everything we are giving up and see that as sacrifice and all that Jesus wants for us.
Sacrifice isn't the starting and end point. Mercy is recognizing that Jesus Himself spent most of His ministry on Earth alone, making His disciples His family. He spent most of His time misunderstood, mistreated, questioned, doubted, and probably exhausted. Yet, He continued to walk amongst the sinners, the tax collectors, the ones who didn't think like Him, rejected Him and often even spited Him. Yet, He not only walked with sinners, He died and rose again to wipe away their sin for those very same sinners.
So, my encouragement to you sisters is this: Mercy is simple. It's compassion. It's extending an arm out to those we probably wouldn't want to. It's inviting in those we probably would overlook. It's praying for those we probably wouldn't think twice about. Mercy is tangible. Mercy is what our Heavenly Father desires of us. Let's seek Him and ask Him what mercy looks like in our day to day life!
The weekly devotionals seek to encourage you to dig deeper into Scripture as you take the time to daily read, meditate, and internalize the verses in the devotional, along with the passages provided below to give greater context. Take the time to read them throughout the week (repetition is important) and ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp what God is showing you about Himself, about you, and how to live in light of these truths.
Passages to read/memorize/meditate:
1 Samuel 24:14
Questions to Reflect on:
1. What do we think about when we hear the word Mercy?
2. What are some areas of your life you think God is calling you to extend mercy to those around you?
3. Are there tangible ways you can act on mercy in your life right now?