Showing Mercy, the Art of Dying to Self
6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Micah 6:8 (NKJV)
“You must never treat anyone unmercifully. If you think someone is not worthy of your mercy, you should realise that neither do you deserve anything. You don’t deserve to have been created, or to be a Christian, or to be a son of God, or to have the family you have… “ (1)
When I read this, my mind started to inventory the people I tend to struggle treating with mercy. The obvious are those that are adversarial, those relationships that are strained because of the their sin, and mine. Some of them may not even know me – but what they do and say affects me, or more often, the people I serve and help train to minister to others. Even as I think of them, I tend to squirm a bit.
Then there are the people who are pretty much strangers, the person at the market who races to get a head of me. (Have to admit – I sometimes take a teeny bit of joy when they turn around in triumph and see my clerical collar!) Or the neighbor who I do not bother to engage in conversation. How can I show them mercy? There is always a way…we just have to take the time to think about it…
And then there is the person whom I choose to ignore. They may be that irritating person, or that immature one – better just to ignore them, and all if you don’t have anything good to say…say and do nothing. What about, the homeless guy with the sign (and we all know what he is really asking for the money for..right? uhm no )People that we do not show mercy, because we don’t even recognize they exist. As I thought of them – my “old adam” was crushed a little more, as the guilt just amped up.
The funny thing is, if I am to show mercy, the way to find the power, the ummphh, the ability to do it, doesn’t come from self discipline and mastery under my own strength. It comes as I realize how incredible the mercy shown to me has been. The difference it makes – and the basic fact is – I don’t deserve, even as I sometimes think those around me aren’t worthy of it, either. We aren’t in some ways, and never will be. The only way that matters though, says we are, because we are His children. called into that relationship together, not as individuals, but as His family.
Which means we have to die to self, to pride, in order to find that which enables us to fulfill God’s reason, His logos. We have to see our sin and its passion crucified. In order to show mercy, we have to die to self, and our own sin. It is the only way, and it is not an easy road…. our incredible ability for self-defense and self preservation will try to stop us. Even so, for us to see this happen in necessary. We must see the old Adam – our sinful nature – put to death, that Christ may live in us, and show mercy.
Or perhaps, we just need to remember what happened when God marked us as His in baptism:
6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Romans 6:5-8 (ESV)
“5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:22-24 (ESV)
The Lord has shown you mercy… remember that, as you grow in your desire to show God mercy…
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 707-709). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.