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Matthew 5:7 ³Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.´ In Matthew 5:7, Jesus blesses those who show mercy. Mercy means compassion and sympathetic feeling. When we are merciful, we identify ourselves with the person who receives our mercy and desire good for that person. When we show mercy, we are like-minded with God because God is merciful. James 2:13 ³Mercy triumphs over judgment!´ James says that mercy triumphs over judgment. God¶s way is mercy. He has compassion on those who are poor and needy, broken-hearted and contrite in spirit. John 3:16-17 ³For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.´ God demonstrated abundant mercy on us sinners. He did not send Jesus to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. When Jesus returns a second time, He will come to judge. But now is the time of salvation. When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for spending time with ³sinners,´ how did He respond? He told them that God had compassion on the lost and the spiritually sick. When the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven on the Samaritans, how did Jesus respond? He told them, ³You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men¶s lives, but to save them.´ In contrast to God, who is merciful and stands ready to forgive, Satan is completely without mercy and always looking to condemn. His name means ³accuser´ in the Hebrew language, meaning someone who is your adversary in court. Satan always accuses people and the Bible describes Him in three places as accusing people before God like a prosecutor. Job 1 and 2 Zechariah 3:1-2 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right said to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, ³The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?´ Revelation 12:9-10 The great dragon was hurled down²that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angles with him. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ³Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brethren, who accuses them before God day and night, has been hurled down.´ Basically, Satan always looks for weaknesses to criticize. He says, ³This one deserves punishment!´ His goal is to tear down²eventually to drag people down to where he is.
Many times, we act more like Satan than like Jesus. We quickly see the faults and weaknesses of others and are ready to condemn them. In our hearts, we judge them and think of the punishment that they deserve. But, when we think like this, we are thinking like Satan, not like God. God is full of love and compassion. When He sees sinners, He loves them tenderly. We need the Holy Spirit to change our hearts to be more like His. We should not rejoice when people get what they deserve because even God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. To be sure, Osama bin Laden deserved to die and is certainly in hell right now, but God takes no pleasure in this. Quite the opposite! Before bin Laden was born, God planned to send His own Son to suffer and die for this man, just so that he would have the opportunity to be saved. Ezekiel 33:11 ³Say to them, µAs surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they would turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?¶´ Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of the people¶s unrepentant hearts. But when there is someone who is annoying on the Metro bus, I judge and condemn them in my heart. We need the Holy Spirit to come inside us. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, and love does no harm to its neighbor. The Pharisees lived according to the letter of the law, but they could not fulfill the purpose of the law, which was to reveal the character of God. But we have the Spirit, and when we walk according to the desires of the Spirit inside of us, then we will naturally do what the law could not, which is reveal the character of God in our lives. This is why all of us need to continually press into God and ask for His Spirit to come and cleanse us from wrong attitudes and thoughts, and to come and fill us up with love, joy, peace, and faithfulness. The New Testament warns us many times against judging other believers. James 4:11-12 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you²who are you to judge your neighbor? James says that when we judge our brother or sister, we put ourselves above the law of God. In effect, we are saying that God is not doing His job and that we need to step in and deliver our own judgment. But, our job is to obey God²we should leave the judging to Him. Romans 14:1-4 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man¶s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else¶s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. When it comes to disputable matters, we need to remember that each of us is accountable to God directly. None of us report to a middle manager. God will tell each person what He wants for that person at that time, and the rest of us must not judge, especially if it is not about doctrine but about an expression of practice. God may tell you that it is not OK for you to watch certain types of movies, wear certain types of clothes, listen to certain music, or read certain books. But, He hasn¶t told that to other people. They need to listen to the Holy Spirit and hear what God tells them individually.
What if someone is caught in a clear sin? What should we do in that case? Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other¶s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Paul says we should seek to restore that person if possible. We should consider their burden our own. We should not write people off quickly when they make a mistake. James 5:19-20 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. Jude 1:22-23 Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear²hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. When someone turns from the right path, we should have mercy and seek to help them get back on track. We should not take that opportunity to condemn them. What about church discipline? 1 Timothy 5:19-20 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that others may take warning. Only in very special circumstances should the church have to rebuke people publicly. Otherwise, we should deal with things privately. In every case, the purpose is to restore people. For elders, because they are to be held in high regard and given double honor, they must also be rebuked publicly when they sin. In some cases, when someone sins flagrantly without remorse, they need to be put out of the fellowship, as Paul counseled the Corinthians to do with a certain man in 1 Corinthians 5. However, in all these cases, whether private or public, the goal is to restore people. The hurt is the church¶s hurt and no one wins²we all lose and we all win together. What can you do to prevent a critical attitude? First, you can see people as God sees them. When God looks at us, He sees what is possible in us. He sees the good plans He has for us. He never gives up on us or writes us off as incorrigible. One man in the Bible who could see people the way God did was Barnabas. I love Barnabas. Acts 4:36-37 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles¶ feet. Luke the doctor, who wrote the Book of Acts, made this note about Barnabas early on because Barnabas played an important role in his history. He specially tells us that what people called him: ³Son of Encouragement.´ You¶ll see why. Acts 9:26-27 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was really a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
Before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Saul was the number one enemy of the church in Jerusalem. But God saw potential in this murderer and blasphemer. God saw that Saul could become Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. Barnabas was the only Christian in all Jerusalem that gave Saul a chance. Barnabas saw Saul the way God did. Later, when Mark abandoned Paul and Barnabas, Paul was ready to write him off as a flaky, featherweight Christian. But Barnabas saw potential in Mark and stood up for him (Acts 15:3641). I believe Luke included these details in the history of Acts because he knew how Barnabas was proven right again. In fact, in Paul¶s very last letter written before he was martyred, he asked Timothy to bring Mark along ³because he is helpful to me in my ministry.´ Can you be like Barnabas, an encourager who sees people the way God does? Brothers and sisters, being merciful doesn¶t mean that we ignore what is right and wrong. It doesn¶t mean we have to say everything is OK. But, it does mean that we love sinners and have compassion on them, even as God loved us and had compassion on us. It does mean that we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. Be like Jesus, not like Satan. Satan is not a happy person. His way is pride, knowing everything, seeing faults everywhere, and puffing himself up. But the Spirit of Jesus is love, humility, and seeking the good of others over ourselves. Matthew 7:1-3 ³Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother¶s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?´ One day, God will balance the scales. Jesus will return and everyone will face judgment before the Great White Throne of God. Everyone who has not accepted God¶s gracious salvation will receive exactly what they deserve. Jesus says the measure we use to judge others will at that time be brought out to judge us. Therefore, we should have mercy. Leave the judging to God. James 2:12-13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
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